The International Steel Trade Association warns UK government to address the threats to avoid Britain’s steel supply chain losses.
Many medium-sized, independent businesses could be at risk if the steel crisis is allowed to escalate, according to the International Steel Trade Association (ISTA).
The ISTA suggests further threats to jobs will come if suppliers will not be able to purchase steel competitively from their chosen market supplier.
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This would create an ‘artificial market’, according to ISTA chairman, Jeffrey Kabel.
He noted: “There is an escalating threat which is moving rapidly along the supply chain.
“We are not talking here solely about giant manufacturing facilities in close-knit communities, or the steel belt in Scotland and the Midlands, but small and medium-sized firms scattered across industrial estates, town-centre office buildings and ports nationwide.
“These are the steel products providers; traders, shippers and distributors who feed their customers with high quality steel and bespoke products, which are the lifeblood of so many manufacturing and infrastructure projects.”
Big construction firms have already begun to shun products sourced from China and other markets.
Kabel stressed: “This is a serious issue as it hits confidence in the supply chain: once you go down the road of questioning the integrity of materials, distortions start to kick in.
“We are seeing this already with firms chasing dwindling supplies, which in turn hits costs”
ISTA’s concerns were flagged as ministerial working groups addressing the industry’s key challenges unveiled new initiatives aimed at bolstering international competitiveness.
But there is a risk that this approach will overlook the direct challenge facing the wider steel supply chain – such as market distortions, said Kabel.
He concluded: “ISTA believes now is the time for the industry and government to work effectively together in order to create a robust, long-term future for what is still a dynamic and vitally important British industry.
“But this demands a coordinated approach, involving all stakeholders in the steel supply chain.”