Scrapping tariffs on steel would 'betray' communities

Ditching safeguards against steel ‘dumping’ in the UK would be a betrayal of the industry and communities across the country, Labour’s shadow business secretary Ed Miliband has said.

Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 12:09 pm

The MP for Doncaster North joined Sheffield MPs in criticising Government plans to drop several import safeguards.

And he described the row as a ‘major test’ of Government promises to champion business post-Brexit.

He said: "There is just one day to go until the Government announces whether or not it will retain crucial steel import safeguards.

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Ed Miliband is shadow business secretary and Labour MP for Doncaster North. Picture: Marie Caley

"The Business Secretary cannot allow our vital UK industries to be thrown under the bus by the Trade Secretary.

“Failure to maintain these safeguards would be a betrayal of Britain's steel industry, a betrayal of communities across the country, and a self-defeating hammer blow to our national interest."

The Trade Remedies Authority has called for the removal of nine safeguards against below cost price steel being imported into the UK. The body is independent of government.

The Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, can only accept the recommendations in full - or allow all 19 protective measures to fall instead.

The Secretary of State does not have the legal power to amend the recommendations, or to extend the existing safeguards against the TRA's recommendations.

Sheffield MPs have lined up to to criticise the plans - including Tory Miriam Cates.

The MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge has called for an urgent reform of trade laws to protect the steel industry from ‘unfair global trading practices’.

The town is home to a Liberty Speciality Steels plant employing more than 600. The company also employs 700 in Rotherham.

A Department of International Trade spokeswoman said: “Rejecting the TRA’s recommendation would mean all 19 of the product categories within the safeguard measure expire on 30 June - even the 10 the TRA recommends the UK should keep.

“Any forcing through of legislation in order to disregard the TRA recommendation, which is based on evidence provided by interested parties including importers, domestic producers and overseas exporters, would breach World Trade Organisation rules, leaving us open to challenge and retaliation.”

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.