Tyre stakeholders unite against illicit traders

Following the highly successful launch last year of the Blow the Whistle Compliance Forum at Automechanika, which is aimed at stamping out the trade in illegal automotive parts in South…

Following the highly successful launch last year of the Blow the Whistle Compliance Forum at Automechanika, which is aimed at stamping out the trade in illegal automotive parts in South Africa, a number of industry associations in the local and import sectors have joined together to form the Tyre Silo Forum.

Spearheaded by Vishal Premlall, National Director of the Tyre, Equipment, Parts Association, a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), the forum is comprised of the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF), the South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC), representing the four local tyre manufacturers in the country, and the Tyre Importers Association of South Africa (TIASA).

Premlall says this is the first Forum collaboration post conference and he’s delighted that the Forum will be able to gain momentum during 2024. “This is an issue that impacts all South Africans as well as all industry players in the import, manufacturing and retail space. The coming together of these four powerful associations will definitely give further impetus to our drive,” says Premlall.

Ultimately, all efforts are designed to protect the consumer as well as the impact on the economy and business sustainability. Significant revenues are being lost as a result of certain importers and traders at the bottom end of the supply chain who are bringing in parts of very poor quality through compromised channels. These parts are not fit for purpose and do not adhere to local regulatory standards. Not only does this negatively impact a struggling economy but it is also a safety hazard for unsuspecting consumers.

Nduduzo Chala, Managing Executive of SATMC, says the Forum will now complement and align with the work SATMC is doing behind the scenes with law enforcement agencies to identify and investigate cases of illicit tyre trade. “We need to protect our industry and the livelihood this industry supports,” he says. “The longer we allow illicit products to enter through our borders, the more we are going to see retrenchments happening in the sector and businesses closing down, not to mention the safety impact on the average motorist.”

Dr Juanita Maree, Chief Executive Officer of SAAFF, agrees saying the organisation is working proactively with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and other Government agencies offering shared insights in respect of international best practices, not only to enhance the facilitation of legitimate trade, but also to simultaneously remove illicit activities from the trading environment. “While we may differ in thinking around the likelihood, impact and severity of the risk, there is a need for an alignment in respect of the methodology to support the complete and collaborative eradication of illicit trade in the tyre industry,” she says.

Charl de Villiers, Chairman of the Tyre Importers Association of South Africa (TIASA) says this is not something that can be tackled alone. It needs a collaborative effort from all the relevant stakeholders if the effort is to be successful. “We expect that the current depressed economic climate will continue to impact consumer choice, and we also anticipate unscrupulous traders will increasingly look for loopholes to take advantage of the current challenges being experienced at our ports.

Premlall says this is no longer just an importer or local manufacturer issue, it is an issue that is negatively impacting the entire sector and the economy at large, and he looks forward to the Forum working more closely with the Department of Trade Industry and Competition (dtic) and the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) as well as SARS to close any loopholes in the current SARS and ITAC laws and regulations. “We require a hybrid approach starting right from origin declaration and then identifying the risk indicators at every point in the supply chain.

“We also want to remind consumers to stand up and report any illicit trade through our Whistleblower hotline so the necessary role players can step in. The number can be found on the TEPA website,” concludes Premlall.

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