Import duties on sugar have been raised to $680 from $566 a tonne to protect the domestic industry against a surge in imports, the trade and industry minister said on Wednesday.
The South African Sugar Association applied in February to have the tariff raised to $856 a tonne, but the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa, which conducts customs tariff investigations and proposes trade remedies, set a lower import duty.
“While the level is not at the maximum bound rate as initially requested by the industry in the application, the $680 per tonne will provide the immediate relief urgently required by the industry and sufficient trade protection against the surge of imports,” Trade Minister Rob Davies said in a statement.
He said in arriving at its determination, the commission considered the domestic cost of production with key input costs identified as fertiliser, chemicals, electricity, transport and labour.
The sugar industry contributes about R14 billion to South Africa’s gross domestic product and employs 85 000 people directly and another 350 000 indirectly in the main sugar-growing regions of KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga provinces.
Major local producer Tongaat Hulett said in May it intended expanding into Africa as part of a strategy to bulk up in the central and southern regions of the continent.
The firm partly blamed sugar imports for a fall in profits.