Government is facing calls from UK Steel, manufacturers and unions to follow the US in imposing higher tariffs for “unfairly” traded steel.
The US Department of Commerce has imposed preliminary tariffs of 266% on imports of cold-rolled steel from seven countries, including China. In contrast, provisional tariffs of between 13.8% and 16% are in place in the EU.
Gareth Stace, director of UK Steel, has urged government to act more swiftly to combat the vast imports that are undermining the UK steel industry.
He said: “The US is showing the way in which to deal with under-priced, unfairly traded and state supported imports from China. It is acting decisively, swiftly and at a level that stops China dumping steel with impunity. By contrast, the meek and mild response in the EU is looking increasingly inadequate.
“It begs the question why the UK government continues to block EU-level attempts to impose higher tariffs. The UK must lift its opposition to the ‘lesser duty rule’ so that the EU can aspire to Uncle Sam’s strong stance and stand up to the increasing threat posed by China. Warm words and limited incremental action are not enough given the crisis conditions faced by steel makers across Europe today.”
Last year, New Civil Engineer reported that British steel firms were urging the EU to make it easier to classify Chinese steel imported into Europe.
Yesterday, business secretary Sajid Javid held the first meeting of the new joint Steel Council. The council builds on the work of ministerial working groups which focused on addressing the pressing issues faced by the industry.
Javid said: “The crisis facing the British steel industry and workers is grave indeed. But people should be in no doubt that this government has done, and will continue to do, everything that is possible to secure the future of British steel making and protect Britain’s wider economy. That includes working more closely than ever with the industry in the new joint Steel Council.”