US President Donald Trump has announced plans to impose tariffs on the import of steel and aluminium, at 25% and 10% respectively.
Commenting on the Trump steel tariffs, Richard Warren, UK Steel head of policy, said: “While we still await the precise detail of these measures, and there is still a lingering hope that these tariffs may not target the UK and EU, President Trump’s comments do indicate the introduction of blanket measures to restrict the import of all steel imports regardless of their origin.
“This would be a unilateral, and extremely blunt, approach to what is a complex global problem of overcapacity in the steel sector. This requires a coordinated global approach.
“While we all too well understand the frustrations of the US sector, measures such as these smack of short-termism, protectionism and would be rife with unintended consequences for global trade and for the users of steel in the US.
“At a UK level, our sector exports some £360m worth of high-value steel products into the US each year, almost 15% of our exports. These measures, would seriously undermine our ability to compete in this market.
“Equally there is significant apprehension about the indirect impacts of these measures in the form of steel trade diverted away from the US to other markets, such as the UK. In short, these measures would cause serious damage to the prospects of many steel producers here.
“While performed under the guises of national security, whichever way you look at it the UK exports of steel into the US are clearly no threat to US security and pose no threat the health of the US steel sector. We are one of its oldest and closest allies. We trust the UK government would push for and fully support a robust response from the EU.
“If next week’s official announcement does reveal the worst, there is a strong message here for the UK government as well. In its imagined post-Brexit role as the vanguard for global free trade, it must remember that not everyone is on the same page and not everyone is playing by the same rules.
“While we have to resist any urge to mirror such protectionist moves, we must at the same time be clear-eyed and equip ourselves with tools to respond effectively and protect our interests when necessary.”
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