Britain’s manufacturing sectors are warning they need genuine free trade to prevent economic disaster in the wake of American steel and aluminium tariffs.
The Manufacturing Trade Remedies Alliance, (MTRA) made up of 12 national trade associations and unions, is calling on politicians to act to secure this vital part of the economy.
The MTRA warns, that the risk of a trade war could jeopardise manufacturing industries, often based in the heart of their communities and supporting many more indirect and supply chain jobs.
MTRA member trade associations and unions are asking government to support the manufacturing businesses that face becoming ‘collateral damage’ in the wake of Trump’s protectionism.
Jude Brimble, manufacturing national secretary for GMB trade union, said: “British Ministers need to work with trade unions, employers and the EU to ensure an effective response to the steel and aluminium tariffs, whilst ensuring manufacturing jobs in other sectors are not negatively impacted by counter measures”
Tony Burke, assistant general secretary at Unite the Union, said: “When the UK leaves the EU we will need to be able to respond to dumping of goods such as steel, ceramics, paper etc, and unilateral tariffs as we have seen recently imposed by Donald Trump.
“As it is, the government has proposed an extra layer of bureaucracy for ‘safeguards’ which will cause delay just when a rapid and robust response is needed.”
The British Ceramic Confederation (BCC), which is based in Stoke, the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) and the Black Country Chamber of Commerce have all spoken out since the decision was made last week.
Reportedly, the BCC has said manufacturers could be “hit hard” by Trump’s steel tariffs decision “if it spirals into a trade war” and is warning the fall out could damage the tableware and giftware industry, which currently exports £34m of goods to the US.
Laura Cohen, BCC chief executive, said: “Our tableware manufacturers’ quality ceramic products are in demand all over the world. They export successfully because of the rules that help free trade.
“The steel tariffs go against these rules and could start a damaging trade war. Currently, our UK ceramic tableware and giftware producers export 70% of their ware, and £34m of this goes to America. The UK imports less than £4m of tableware from America.
“Trump’s protectionism and barriers to trade will ultimately inflict damage, as the EU responds, the situation could escalate affecting our exports.”
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