MP warns South Yorkshire steel mills could close if Government scraps tariffs

Steel mills could close if the Government scraps safeguards protecting the industry, a South Yorkshire MP has warned.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 11:19 am

John Healey warned against scrapping tariffs that protect against foreign steel being ‘dumped’ at below cost price in the UK.

He spoke out after the Trade Remedies Investigations Directorate published final recommendations which include removing nine out of 19 product categories from safeguard measures.

One of the products set to be removed is wire steel, produced at the Liberty plant in Rotherham.

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John Healey MP, right, at Liberty's Thrybergh mill with Steve Unwin managing director for Rotherham Steel and Bar.

The US and EU are keeping protections in place.

Mr Healey said: “This decision puts unnecessary extra pressure on Britain’s steel-makers. It takes Britain in totally the wrong direction when the UK steel industry needs a long-term plan, backed by the Government using its procurement powers to help.

“The public expect British Ministers to stand up for British industry and British jobs.”

Last month, Mr Healey wrote to Liz Truss MP, Secretary of State for International Trade, urging her to reject the recommendations.

He wrote: ‘It risks the British steel industry being undercut by a flood of cheap imports from countries such as China that unfairly subsidise production.

‘Such deliberately hostile action from China was the reason the steel safeguards were put in place and your decision now puts at risk the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of steel workers across the country.

‘It creates unfair competition and puts at great risk highly skilled, well paid jobs like at Liberty Steel in South Yorkshire’.

The safeguards set tariff-free quotas for steel based on the level of imports between 2013 and 2017.

Once a threshold is passed, tariffs are applied to additional imports over a three-month period.

The directorate said axing protection on nine categories was ‘not likely to cause injury to the domestic industry’.

A Government spokeswoman said: “All interested parties, including importers, domestic producers and overseas exporters, have been able to participate in the review to provide evidence to factor into the Trade Remedies Authority’s assessment.

“The TRA is a non-departmental public body, and all its decisions are based on a thorough analysis of the evidence.

“The Trade Secretary's decision on the recommendation will be published before the measure is due to expire on June 30, 2021."

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.