The UK will introduce new safeguards for the steel industry after backing a recommendation to scrap some existing import quotas.
International trade secretary Liz Truss tonight confirmed that the government would accept the Trade Remedies Authority’s (TRA) finding and scrap existing safeguards on nine out of 19 steel categories, while keeping them intact on the remaining 10.
However, in order to protect the struggling industry, ministers will introduce a “public notice” which will set out the details of the temporary extension on a further five of the 19 steel products for one year.
“The steel sector supports the jobs of over 80,000 people across the UK, including some 35,000 well-paid jobs in steel production, and a further 44,000 jobs supported in wider supply chains.
“That is why the Government is taking decisive action today by making new regulations to defend jobs in the UK steel industry”, Truss said in a written statement to Parliament.
When the TRA revealed its recommendations at the start of the month it caused outrage among the industry, which has been struggling for half a decade.
It warned that scrapping the tariffs, while other economic blocs like the US and EU kept them intact, could see the UK flooded by cheap foreign steel, risking thousands of jobs.
But tonight sector body UK Steel praised the government’s move, saying Truss and Boris Johnson had “stood up for steel”.
“The Government’s interventions will prevent an anticipated wave of overseas steel flooding our market, that would have cost jobs, investment, and our ability to decarbonise as a sector, threatening the UK’s road to net-zero” said director-general Gareth Stace.
“To have removed steel import restrictions tomorrow would have cost the sector hundreds of millions per year, as a result of increased import penetration and reduced market share for UK producers.
“This cost would be equivalent to 50% of the annual capital investment of steel producers, or 2,500 employees – 8% of the total employment in the sector.
“Today’s bold move today by Ministers, will safeguard the sector’s ability to innovate, modernise and decarbonise; something that the sector is currently working closely with Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng to do through the Steel Council.”