The Sasa Tariff Application to ITAC

28 Nov 2014

The Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU), representing about 3 000 of the 5 800 sugar milling and refining workers and few thousands of estimated 64 000 sugar cane planting and cane cutting (harvesting) workers, will be making submission to ITAC on why the tariff hike on sugar and related products is necessary to protect our sugar industry. This submission is in opposition to the one by yet another 'middle-man'-type association, called Association of Southern African Sugar Importers (ASASI), in the sugar sector which calls for tariffs to remain low, a similar call made by their Siamese twin in the poultry sector called Association of Meat Importers and Exporters (AMIE) in the poultry sector.

FAWU, in line with its resolutions and policy outlook, will be insisting that tariffs are necessary to protect our country's manufacturing base and promote its industrialization, as part of job-creating industrial strategy and poverty-eradicating development plan, to achieve jobs retention and creation as well as meeting the country's food security. Protecting manufacturing jobs in the industry, through anti-dumping duties or tariff hike or other mechanisms, and defending the sugar sector from 'de-industrialization' are fundamental to FAWU as it should be for our government in the light of high unemployment and poverty as well as rising inequality. If nothing is done on protection of sugar sector, about 40 000 of the about 77 000 jobs will be lost in the value-chain.

We do note concerns, raised by (ASASI), on possible rise of sugar prices following tariff hike or other protection steps and hope that those prices should not rise astronomically and a balance with consumer benefits will be struck by the producers, processors like millers and refiners as well as sugar-based manufacturers and retailers. We wish to hasten to add that should the retail prices rise by more than 15% then we, as FAWU, would not hesitate to call on the Minister to review the new dispensation of protection although we would urge that before such is done the retailers, especially in the light of the notorious Whitey Basson and Christo Wiese of Shoprite-fame, are investigated on possible excessive pricing or price subsidy (ie increase of price-inelastic necessities in cross-subsidization of price-sensitive 'luxurities') in their retail shelves.