Auto industry supportive of anti-dumping duties on imported Chinese windscreens

23 Jan 2024

23 January 2024
Independent Online
by Tawanda Karombo

South Africa’s auto industry is supportive of anti-dumping duties imposed on shipments of vehicle windscreens, saying imported automotive glass should be controlled to control safety standards. In a general notice published at the end of last week, the International Trade Administration Commission said Minister of Trade, Industrious and Competition Ebrahim Patel had “approved” its recommendation for the imposition of anti-dumping duties on imported vehicle windscreens. “The five-year period that the anti-dumping duties may stay in place before the duties lapse, if a sunset review is not initiated, will be counted from the publication date of the notice in the Government Gazette by Sars,” the commission said in General Notice 2277 of 2024.

Patel had now “requested the Minister of Finance (Enoch Godogwana) to amend Schedule No. 2 to the Act in order to give effect” to the new anti-dumping duties. The National Automobile Dealers’ Association (Nada) told Business Report on Friday that it supported the anti-dumping duties on windscreens imported from China into South Africa and the SACU region as a measure of controlling safety, security and quality standards in the industry.

“NADA supports the imposition of anti-dumping duties on windscreens from China into the SACU region,” Gary McCraw, national chairperson for Nasa, said. McCraw said, “Safety is paramount when it comes to a vehicle’s windscreen” and explained that Nada’s emphasis was on windscreens and other components’ “compliance with both local regulations and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) standards. “Meeting these standards is essential for ensuring the glass's safety, particularly in the event of an accident. Nowadays, many windscreens incorporate sensors and other attachments, further underlining their role in modern vehicle safety,” he said.

Franchised dealers, he added, had in-depth knowledge of products and adherence to standards, hence they were better positioned as “reliable sources for ensuring the safety” of critical components in the manufacture or assembly of vehicles. Sars last year imposed temporary anti-dumping duties on Chinese imported windscreens for a period of six months ending August 9. The industry has lobbied for longer-term duties to ensure safety and also promote fairness to local players.

The International Trade Administration Commission in making its decision considered comments from interested parties after it issued “essential facts letters that it was considering making a final determination” that the windscreens originating and imported from China were constituting product dumping into the SACU auto industry. The commission had determined that the imported vehicle windscreens were “causing material injury” to the SACU industry. Most of the imported windscreens were being used as in the SACU region, especially South Africa as “replacement glass” in the aftermarket.

On initiation of the investigation in July 2022, the commission sent questionnaires to known producers and exporters of windscreens in China, while the Chinese diplomatic representative was also directed to forward the questionnaire to unknown producers. South Africa’s auto industry last year registered an increase in vehicle sales despite facing challenges, although sales in December, at 40 329 units, marked the fifth consecutive month of year-on-year decline. Annual vehicle sales for South Africa for 2023, however, increased to 532 098 compared to 529 556 a year earlier, data from the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) showed earlier this month.

South African vehicle exports were, however, a bright spot for the industry, hitting a record of 396 290 units, and rising 12.7% compared to 2022. Naamsa said increased load shedding and the logistical challenges at ports and the railway network, as well as higher interest rates, had left “a mark on the industry’s performance” in 2023. “The automotive sector's productivity relies heavily on infrastructure investment, sustainable energy supply and the revitalisation of South Africa's ports, rail and roads. Alongside faster economic growth and moderate inflation, lower interest rates would go a long way to support the new vehicle market in 2024,” said Naamsa.