Commenting on today’s written statement by the Secretary of State Kemi Badenoch, UK Steel Director General, Gareth Stace, said:
“The reform package announced today is hugely significant for UK industry, making the UK’s trade remedies regime more balanced, flexible and truly allowing for decisions to be made in the best economic and public interest of the UK. It will ensure that the UK has the right toolkit as an independent trading nation to ensure its industry can compete on a level playing field.
“Free trade cannot exist and be truly championed without robust trade remedies, in a global trading landscape riddled with distortions and subsidies. No matter how competitive our industry is, it cannot thrive when being undercut by cheap imports that benefit from government subsidies, preferential access to finance and lower environmental standards.
“While there are parts of a trade remedies investigation that are a purely technical exercise and should be rightfully undertaken by an independent body, such a body does not have the mandate to judge whether producers, consumers or importers of a product are more economically significant. Furthermore, trade remedies measures are not only economic tools, but can have significant economic and political ramifications.
“Today’s announcement is testament that this Government listens to industry and is willing to learn from experience and adapt post-Brexit arrangements when they prove not to work.”
- The UK’s trade remedies regime was set up post Brexit under an administration which viewed trade remedies as undesirable. It was therefore designed to make measures unnecessarily difficult to introduce and most likely to be weaker than equivalent measures elsewhere when they are.
- The original framework was one-sided and extremely rigid. The Trade Remedies Authority (TRA) would provide an independent recommendation and the Secretary of State could only accept or reject a measure. In other words, it only allowed the Secretary of State to intervene in one direction, that is only to act against a measure.
- The pitfalls of the framework were well exemplified in an anti-dumping case where the TRA found that dumping from Chinese exporters was likely to occur and that UK producers would suffer injury as a consequence. It however recommended against a measure on economic interest grounds on the basis of unfounded allegations that the war in Ukraine might cause shortages in supply. This later proved wrong and industry was able to reverse the recommendation, but the bar was set disconcertingly low for recommending against a measure.
About UK Steel: UK Steel is the trade association for the UK steel industry. It represents all the country’s steelmakers and most of downstream steel processors.
The UK Steel sector:
- Produces 7.2Mt of crude steel a year, around 70% of the UK’s annual requirement (annual demand of 10.5Mt)
- Employs 34,500 people directly in the UK and supports a further 43,000 in supply chains
- The median steel sector salary is £37,629, 45% higher than the UK national median and 59% higher than the regional median in Wales, and Yorkshire & Humberside, where its jobs are concentrated
- Directly contributes £2.4 billion to UK GDP and supports a further £3.1 billion
- Directly contributes £2.4 billion to the UK’s balance of trade
- 96% of steel used in construction and infrastructure in the UK is recovered and recycled to be used again and again.
For further information about the steel industry, please see the 2023 press pack.