Steel crisis: Business secretary Sajid Javid flies to Brussels for OECD and Belgian government-convened oversupply summit tomorrow

Francesca Washtell
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The steel plant in Port Talbot is one of the facilities being sold by India-based Tata Steel (Source: Getty)

Business secretary Sajid Javid will travel to Brussels today ahead of the latest summit to address oversupply in the global steel industry.

The full-day meeting, convened by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Belgian government, will discuss how governments can facilitate "market-driven industry restructuring" and aim to agree on steps to "reduce competition-distorting policies".

Government ministers and private sector representatives from around 30 countries including China, Japan, Germany, India, the UK and the US will attend the summit, while institutional bodies including the European Union, World Trade Organization, OECD and World Steel Association will also be sending delegates.

European and North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) delegations will raise the ongoing issue of overcapacity in the worldwide steel market, an industry source told City A.M.

Overcapacity in steel was above 700m metric tonnes (mmt) at the end of 2015 and new plants are set to add another 47mmt by 2018, according to OECD analysis. Meanwhile, steel consumption is expected to have declined last year.

The global supply glut has largely been triggered by China, a country that in the early 2000s accounted for roughly a fifth of worldwide steel supply, but by 2015 accounted for almost half of all production and had seen a plummet in its levels of consumption.

Around 18,000 people are directly employed in Britain's steel sector, of which 15,000 are employed by Tata Steel, but these jobs have been placed increasingly at risk by large-scale closures and uncertainty over whether steel produced in the UK can remain competitive.

The formal sales process of India-based Tata Steel's UK steel assets began last Monday. On the same day, Greybull Capital bought Tata's Scunthorpe plant in a deal that will see its steelworks business renamed as British Steel.

Speaking during a three-hour emergency debate on Britain's deepening steel crisis in the House of Commons last week, Javid said he was fighting for the UK's steel industry "every hour of the day".

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