West Midlands Member of European Parliament, Neena Gill, has condemned the UK Government's inaction on regulating the global steel market.
Following the announcement that Tata Steel will make plant closures across the UK, Neena Gill MEP, who has been working closely with the steel sector in the West Midlands, has called on the Government to step up to avoid knock-on effects to jobs in the region.
The issue of ‘Chinese dumping’ has badly affected places like the Black Country where producers and purchasers of steel products have suffered financially as a result of unfair, cheap and low-quality imports that are below market price. As a member of the Midlands Steel Taskforce, Neena Gill was particularly disheartened to learn of this major blow for Midlands steel producers.
Tata steel announced on their website today (30th March 2016) that: “trading conditions in the UK and Europe have rapidly deteriorated more recently, due to structural factors including global oversupply of steel, significant increase in third country exports into Europe, high manufacturing costs, continued weakness in domestic market demand in steel and a volatile currency. These factors are likely to continue into the future and have significantly impacted the long-term competitive position of the UK operations in spite of several initiatives undertaken by the management and the workers of the business in recent years.”
Ms Gill said: “At a recent meeting of the Midlands Steel Taskforce hosted by the Black Country Chamber of Commerce in February this year, industry experts and steel businesses representatives warned that without immediate action by the UK Government, something drastic like this would happen. Unfortunately, the Conservative Business Minister stood by despite warnings from across the UK and EU of the consequences of doing so.
“The steel sector is so important to the UK. Not only does the industry directly employ thousands of people, but they also make high-quality steel products that are vital to many other industries. Unlike the low-quality steel produced by China at an unsustainable price, UK steel is good quality, reliable and built to last. Not only has this Government risked people’s livelihoods by sabotaging the EU’s efforts to regulate against uncompetitive steel dumping but it has forced the whole sector to the edge.
“We have reached tipping point: the point of no return. Once these jobs and others go, it will be immensely hard to bring them back. To do so would cost millions of pounds of re-investment in factories, infrastructure and skills training. This just isn’t feasible.”
Notes to editor
- Tata Steel Board Announcement was published today (30.03.2016) and can be found here: http://www.tatasteeleurope.com/en/news/news/review-of-european-portfolio-of-tata-steel
- Further information on EU Anti-dumping can be located here: http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/accessing-markets/trade-defence/actions-against-imports-into-the-eu/anti-dumping/
- The EU is our most important market for steel: over half our steel exports go to the EU.
- The EU referendum and dumping: it is important we remain a part of the EU to better regulate against dumping. For example, outside the EU Britain would be in a weaker position to defend our economy against unfair competition from countries outside the EU. The Commission now has a record 37 measures against steel products, 16 of which are on Chinese imports.