Government urged to push EU for higher steel tarriffs

Britain’s steelmakers are urging the Government to push the EU to agree higher tarriffs for unfairly traded steel.

According to the Industry’s trade body – UK Steel, companies in Britain are concerned that the UK Government is actively discouraging the EU from supporting higher penalties for countries like China who are seeking to dump steel on world markets.

The call comes ahead of a vital meeting in Brussels today of the EU’s Competitiveness Council.

The UK Government is currently helping to block the scrapping of the EU’s so-called “lesser duty rule” which reduces tariffs on steel products. As a result of this rule, tarriffs are being set are such low rates as to often make them virtually meaningless.

In response, UK Steel is urging the Business Secretary Sajid Javid to get behind a letter he co-signed earlier this month demanding the European Commission “use every means available and take strong action” in response to “unfair trade practices” with action to scrap the rule.

The UK was one of a number of European governments to sign the letter which warned that the European industry is at “impending risk of collapse”.

Gareth Stace, new director, UK Steel.
Gareth Stace, director, UK Steel.

Gareth Stace, director of UK Steel, commented: “If it is serious about tackling unfair trade and the dumping of cheap steel, then the EU has to step up its efforts to improve significantly the speed and effectiveness of trade defence instruments.

“Yet currently, the UK Government appears to be at the forefront of blocking action which would help do this. It is talking about doing everything possible to back the UK steel industry on the one hand, and failing to act when it matters in Brussels.

“The meeting in Brussels provides the perfect opportunity for the UK Government to demonstrate that it will stand four square behind the steel sector by reducing this opposition and help forward action on not only what the European Commission needs to do, but crucially, what is required from European governments.”