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Cablegate: Ansac Soda Ash Imports at Risk

VZCZCXRO9186
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSA #1667 2120901
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 300901Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5258
INFO RUCPDC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0826
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0633
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0700
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1570
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0831
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0669
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1410

UNCLAS PRETORIA 001667

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE PLEASE PASS USAID
STATE PLEASE PASS USGS
DEPT FOR AF/S, ISN, EEB/ESC AND CBA
DOE FOR T.SPERL, G.PERSON, A.BIENAWSKI, M.SCOTT, L.PARKER
DOC FOR ITA DIEMOND

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ECON EMIN SF
SUBJECT: ANSAC SODA ASH IMPORTS AT RISK

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: American National Soda Ash Corporation (ANSAC)
CEO John Andrews told Ambassador that the company was going to
reduce soda ash shipments to customers in South Africa because of
uncertainty related to its on-going competition case and its
separate application to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)
for an exemption as a "critical industry". Ambassador agreed to
write a letter to DTI urging an expeditious decision on the
petition. End Summary.

-------------
Soda Ash Woes
-------------

2. (SBU) American National Soda Ash Corporation CEO John Andrews
met on July 29 with Ambassador to provide an update on the
challenges it faces in importing soda ash into South Africa on
behalf of four soda ash producers from Wyoming. The Competition
Commission will hold hearings on whether ANSAC is a cartel in late
August. This process has been going on for many years and the
time-frame for a decision is unclear. ANSAC has separately
petitioned DTI for a designation as "critical industry" to gain an
exemption from the Competition Commission rulings. Andrews asserts
that there is a global shortage of soda ash and ANSAC's own supply
is "sold out". He said that ANSAC will notify the SAG and customers
that it is cutting its supply to 80 percent immediately and 50
percent in a few weeks, based on the uncertainty of its legal status
in South Africa. Andrews said South African customers (glass,
detergent, and minerals processing - platinum, vanadium, and
uranium) will be hurt by this commercial decision which has been
forced on them. According to Andrews, ANSAC has about a 25 percent
share of the South African market and has been doing business for
thirty years in the country.

--------------
Embassy Action
--------------

3. (SBU) Andrews asked for an Embassy overture to the DTI in
support of its "critical industry" petition, building on USTR
Schwab's raising this issue last week with Trade Minister Mpahlwa in
Washington. Ambassador agreed to write a letter to DTI urging
expeditious processing of the application, but he cautioned that the
Embassy could not take a position on the legal case. CSSA is
drafting this letter. CSSA and Econ will attend the August 25
hearing when ANSAC testifies.

BOST

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