Patel pledges to unlock growth for ‘embattled’ metals and engineering sector

Trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel.

Government’s masterplan for the metals and engineering sector  – currently being formulated – is set to unlock “major growth opportunities” for the embattled sector.

This promise from the Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel, was highlighted at the conclusion of the two-day Southern Africa Metals and Engineering Indaba held in Sandton on Friday.

Patel acknowledged that the sector was facing challenges such as rising input costs and lack of demand but, as a “critical bedrock” of the economy, there was a need to expand the sector’s productivity and capabilities.

Industrialisation will be at the centre of economic recovery and there is a need to refocus on the industrial strategy, he added.

“We have met with metals and engineering sector stakeholders in an effort to ensure that they contribute to the formulation of the plan,” Patel said, pointing out that, to date, his department has received more than 40 submissions from industry players.

“I will soon appoint a facilitator so we can further engage the industry and finalise the plan,” he said, noting that government had recommitted to the sector through the R1.5 billion steel fund and the establishment of the metal fabrication support programme.

Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa), president Elias Monage stressed the need for regular engagements between government, business and labour.

“For the masterplan to succeed, we require full commitment from all metals and engineering sector stakeholders and we need government to provide a conducive environment for the masterplan to work and for the sector to grow,” Monage said.

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