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South Africa

Economic and business conditions have continued to improve and the outlook is more positive, although we are approaching the annual shutdown lasting from mid-December to January 6.

As reported previously, the Department of Trade & Industry, the Treasury and the International Trade Administration Commission have introduced export taxes on scrap metal equating to 10% on both copper and brass and to 15% on aluminium, with the result that overseas shipments have been lower owing to the duty to be paid. Scrap dealers are continuing to melt copper, brass and aluminium into blocks, ingots and billets, with additional capacity being installed to melt various grades of scrap. Containers are being stopped and opened to check the contents and to verify that the paperwork is correct.

COVID cases are increasing and South Africa is expected to suffer a fourth wave of the virus in the next few weeks. Owing to the new Omicron variant, a ban has been imposed on travel from Europe and the USA to South Africa; this is going to hurt the economy, and especially the tourism industry. Some 16 million people have been fully vaccinated - equivalent to 26% of the population - but more need to receive their jabs before the December holidays and going forward.

In other developments, the electricity situation is fragile and some load-shedding has been seen as insufficient maintenance has taken place at power plants throughout South Africa.

With the price of petrol rising dramatically, this is hurting the economy and increasing inflation. Meanwhile, the rand exchange rate has weakened to 15.85 against a stronger US dollar.