There is always speculation that the rise of Covid has had an impact on the imports of products into the country. Higher volumes indicate higher demand, and the same can be said of the reverse. With businesses having to take on operational losses due to Covid (reduction in installations, projects and programmes, maintenance etc), did that have an impact on the demand for imports into South Africa?
Having a look at the customs clearance data gathered by SARS and comparing that against the number of new cases of Covid in 2021, one could draw a conclusion that there is definitely a correlation. However, to state that valve imports went up or down because of Covid is not a fair assessment. Covid did impact the market, and it did impact the operational ability of industries, but there weren’t any barriers to valves coming into the country other than a reduction in the demand.
Considering that it takes 3 – 4 months for imports to reach our ports and get cleared, the confidence levels of there being initiatives, that the imports can be used for, increases. With the number of new cases dropping in the first half of 2021 (before the Delta Variant), the assumption is that projects started to get initiated or rejuvenated, but could have been put on hold as Delta hit its peak in South Africa in June 2021. A reluctance to continue with big builds would have ensued, reducing the demand for products being required.
It is clear to see though that with the decline in cases in the 2nd half of the year, that the imports started to pick up again. This was all just in time for Delta’s younger sibling to take centre stage, but if the relationships remain the same, and rumours of another wave remain just that, Omicron will give way to a more positive and enthusiastic market, ready to recover from all the delays and postponements that 2021 decided to dish out.
(Import sample taken from Butterfly Valves Tariff Code 8481.80.31 and Gate Valves Tariff Code 8481.80.41 and compared against the Novel Coronavirus Daily New Cases in South Africa from 1st January 2021 to 30th November 2021. At the time of this publication, the December 2021 results had not been released by SARS)