UK steelmakers want government help to avoid "perfect storm"

 
James Nickerson
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The industry says it wants to be given "half a chance" (Source: Getty)

Steelmakers in the United Kingdom have appealed to the government to assist them and protect the industry in the face of rising competition and falling prices.

UK Steel, the industry trade association, has said the sector is in the middle of a “perfect storm” and is facing its most difficult situation since it was privatised 27 years ago.

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The effect of falling prices has been compounded by a rise in unfairly traded steel imports and a persistently strong pound” as well as “disproportionate policy and business costs, higher than those faced by both global and European competitors.

Gareth Stace, director of UK Steel said:

This is a critical time for the future of the steel industry which is facing a perfect storm. If the sector is to continue its vital role supplying the rest of manufacturing then we simply cannot afford to stand by. Government has within its power the gift to take immediate steps which can alleviate pressure in the short term.

The industry said it wants to be given “half a chance”, days after it was announced SSI, a Thai steel firm, halted production at its plant in Teesside due to falling demand.

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However, business minister Anna Soubry told the industry it is “limited” in what it can do to aid SSI, due to strict EU rules, prohibiting the government pumping cash directly into the industry.

Yet, the BBC reported SSI chief operating officer Cornelius Louwrens to have said that “other European countries are finding ways to support their steel industries because they believe it is important”.

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