Britain could be flooded with cheap Chinese steel if the government accepts a recommendation to ditch trade protections, according to trade groups.
The Trade Remedies Authority (TRA), the UK’s trade watchdog, has advised the removal of anti-dumping measures aimed at limiting amounts of reinforcing steel rebar which is used to strengthen concrete in construction.
High demand for rebar and an expected fall in supply from Ukraine will drive up prices of the product and have a greater impact on the UK economy than the potential harm to the sole UK producer, the TRA has ruled.
TRA chief executive Oliver Griffiths said: “We have a duty to weigh up the impact of dumping on UK producers against the broader effects on the UK economy of imposing tariffs.”
‘Jobs at risk’
The FT reports that UK Steel, the industry’s lobby group, claimed the judgement was “not only illogical but in fact a recommendation that actively acts against the UK steel industry” and would put “hundreds of jobs at risk in areas of the country the government is supposed to be levelling-up”.
The British Association of Reinforcement (BAR), which represents domestic suppliers, says there is more than enough steel production capacity in the UK and Europe and that relaxing the restrictions would also give rise to concerns over quality and safety, reports the Construction Index.
BAR chairman Steve Elliott said: “The TRA proposals are an over-reaction and do not fully take into account the manufacturing resources of UK and European steel mills. In terms of the significant additional CO2 emissions from importing Chinese steel and concerns over quality, the proposals are utter madness.”
There will be a 30-day period in which interested parties can comment on the report before the TRA produces a final recommendation, which will be sent to the secretary of state for international trade who will make the final decision on whether to uphold the TRA’s recommendation.
Trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan recently confirmed the extension of tariffs on some steel imports to protect the UK steel sector, as covered in the IOE&IT Daily Bulletin.