Britain’s steelmakers are urging the European Commission to act on the dumping of cheap steel into EU markets on the back of data showing the sector’s recovery in the UK stuttered in 2014.
According to the latest annual data from UK Steel, a division of EEF, output of steel in the UK in 2014 was virtually unchanged at 11.9 million tonnes, which was just 0.2% higher than 2013. This followed a strong performance in 2013, when output rose by 24%. Overall, UK steel output is still 19% below pre-recession levels.
According to UK Steel the main cause of this disappointing result has been the growth in imports, which rose to take around 60% of the market compared with 56% in 2013.
Commenting, Ian Rodgers, director of UK Steel said: “Although steel demand in the UK recovered last year, estimated to be 12% up on 2013, the main beneficiaries have been foreign producers. The progressive rise in the value of sterling, the improved demand in the UK compared with the stagnating Eurozone economies and, the sharp slowdown in Chinese growth, all combined to make our market a magnet for overseas steel companies with excess capacity on their hands.
“As a result we are now seeing a growth in steel imports being dumped both here and in other EU countries. This underlines the need for the European Commission to act vigorously to discipline unfairly traded steel imports and, for the British government to support such action.
“Additionally, our ability to compete continues to be hampered by the UK’s high energy prices, and high fixed taxes such as business rates. While the government has promised support with the former, this is not due to be implemented until 2016. It is vital that the government brings forward this support to the earliest practicable date.”