South Africa extends scrap metal export ban

The government of South Africa is to prohibit foreign shipments of copper and carbon steel scrap for six months in an ongoing effort to curb the theft of metal infrastructure.

Railway lines, electricity pylons and road barriers have been stolen, mostly for the metal to be exported, according to the police. The thefts have caused power outages and left trains stranded, and are estimated to have cost the broader economy an estimated ZAR187 bn ($10.3 bn, €9.4 bn) annually.

The export ban was first imposed last November. Trade, industry and competition minister Ebrahim Patel has extended it for six months with an order to the country’s International Trade Administration Commission not to accept or process any application for an export permit for copper or carbon steel scrap during that period. Stainless steel and ferrous scrap generated as a by-product of manufacturing are excluded.

The Recycling Association of South Africa has denounced the export ban, arguing its boosts the profits of big business, local newspaper Business Day reported.

The European Union opposed the measure, arguing it potentially violated the free flow of goods under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. Pretoria responded saying it was within its rights to tackle damage to public infrastructure and was operating within the WTO framework.

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