US steel tariffs put UK market at greater risk says Labour

Mark Sands
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A Look Inside China's Steel Industry
Increased US tariffs on Chinese cold rolled steel leaves the UK industry further exposed, says Labour (Source: Getty)

Labour has clashed with the government over yesterday's hike in US steel tariffs, claimed that the change leaves the UK's steel producers further exposed.

The US dramatically increased the cost of Chinese cold rolled steel yesterday, installing a new tariff, five times higher than its provisional charge.

Speaking to City A.M. shadow business secretary Angela Eagle said: "A tariff like this just means that all of the steel that has already been made will just flow like a great river in a different direction.

“And when the Americans set a tariff on dumped products of this level then there's nowhere else for it to go apart from Europe, and that makes it even more likely that it will damage our industry. So we need to be vigilant,” Eagle said.

UK Steel director Gareth Stace agreed: “Much of the steel that was going to the US will now go somewhere else, and the ships in the mid Atlantic will turn around and head for Europe."

Read More: Chinese steelmakers hit out at US tariff hike

A spokeswoman for the Department of Business Innovation and Skills played down the consequences, arguing that because the US' provisional tariffs were already far above those in Europe, at between 13 per cent and 19 per cent, the raised US tariffs will have little further impact.

“We already have seen big tariffs, and Labour isn't really understanding that,” they said.

However, Eagle maintained that the amount of cheap Chinese steel arriving in the UK increases even marginally as a result of the tariff, then domestic suppliers will be further hurt.

“These things often happen on the margins. Theres tough competition happening and some companies can manages to survive, but a change at the margins can make a big difference to the whole market.

“The EU needs to beef up the instruments of defence like our own tariffs, and our government needs to make sure that they do that quickly and not block the process,” Eagle said

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