The government has been accused of supporting a policy that would deal a final blow to the British steel industry, already thought to be in its death throes.
Axel Eggert, director general of European steel association Eurofer, told City A.M. at the World Manufacturing Forum: "Market economy status for China would most likely be the end of the UK steel industry."
Asked about the UK government's position on this, he said: "We heard they are in favour."
Downing Street has previously been accused of putting its business relationship with Beijing over the needs of what was once one of Britain's most formidable industries.
Granting market economy status to China would effectively remove countries' ability to use anti-dumping tools to stem the slew of Chinese steel exports.
Eggert was also sceptical about the ability of potential buyers to turnaround Tata Steel's loss-making UK assets, even if they receive support from the government.
"[This] does not in my view solve the problem. The problem will persist and the new company will come into the same situation as Tata if nothing is changing," he said.