UK Steel Producers: Level Trading Field

International Trade – in the House of Commons on 15th April 2021.

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Photo of Stephen Kinnock Stephen Kinnock Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

What steps she is taking with Cabinet colleagues to help ensure a level trading field for UK steel producers while the EU and US maintain import controls on steel goods.

Photo of Margaret Ferrier Margaret Ferrier Independent, Rutherglen and Hamilton West

What steps her Department is taking to help ensure a level trading field for UK steel producers while the EU and US maintain import controls on steel goods.

Photo of Ranil Jayawardena Ranil Jayawardena Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)

The Government back the British steel industry, as we have heard already this morning, and the unjustified US tariffs on steel, aluminium and derivatives imports from Britain are completely unfair and wholly unnecessary. Our rebalancing measures in response to the US section 232 on additional tariffs show that we will defend the British national interest and the rules-based system.

Photo of Stephen Kinnock Stephen Kinnock Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

Our steelworkers make the best steel that money can buy but, thanks to the indifference of successive Conservative Governments since 2010, they are constantly being made to compete with one hand tied behind their back. They are already dealing with the highest industrial energy prices in Europe and a Government procurement policy that fails the patriotism test, and now they face the possibility that, in June, steel safeguards that guard against import surges will be removed. Does the Minister agree that, if the Government were to remove those safeguards, it would add insult to injury and again undermine the ability of our steel industry to compete on a level playing field?

Photo of Ranil Jayawardena Ranil Jayawardena Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)

As the hon. Member knows, the British steel industry has benefited from investment of more than £500 million in recent years to help with the costs of energy, and we have announced a £250 million fund to support the decarbonisation of the industry. So this Government are dedicated to supporting the future of the steel industry and we will continue that work.

Photo of Margaret Ferrier Margaret Ferrier Independent, Rutherglen and Hamilton West

Removing these measures would lead to the UK being one of the only steel markets without any protective measures for its steel industries. Does the Minister not agree that, while global overcapacity stands at over 500 million tonnes, it would be unwise to become a rare exposed market for steel when larger markets are still protected?

Photo of Ranil Jayawardena Ranil Jayawardena Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)

Mr Speaker, there are only so many times that I can say the same thing in a different way, but we have transitioned 19 of the EU’s measures and we have adopted systems in Britain for trade remedies based on international best practice to ensure that there is independence in this area. I say to the hon. Lady, as I have said already to her Scottish nationalist colleague, that the biggest market for Scotland is of course the British internal market, from which she is determined to tear Scotland.