In Parliament today I called on the UK Government to take action to give greater support to the steel sector and ensure a more sustainable future for the industry.
In a question to the Secretary of State for Wales, I asked “In light of the lack of news on a steel sector deal, coupled with the looming trade disruption caused by US steel tariffs, what is the Secretary of State doing in cabinet to press for action to give the UK steel sector a more sustainable future? And when is the next steel council?”
In response, Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said that he had raised concerns about the steel tariffs with the US ambassador, and his colleague the International Trade Secretary had made representations on the issue during a recent trip to Washington.
The steel industry has been through difficult times and the government must protect the steel sector. We need action from this government not warm words.
The last UK Steel Council meeting – a forum coordinated by the UK Government to discuss long-term plans for the steel sector, and attended by representatives from the industry, UK and devolved Governments and steel unions – was held in September 2017.
In March President Trump announced that the United States would impose a tariff of 25% on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminium imports. The Trump administration has introduced a temporary exemption from the tariffs for the EU, Canada and Mexico subject to negotiations, with a decision on whether to permanently roll out the tariffs expected in June.
According to figures from British manufacturers’ organisation EEF, around 350,000 tonnes of steel was exported by British producers in 2017 – with around 15% of those exports going to the United States.
The UK Government has not yet committed to a sector deal for the steel industry, despite calls from UK Steel – the umbrella organisation representing steel manufacturers – steel unions, and a number of MPs and Assembly Members. The Welsh Labour Party also launched a report on securing the future of the steel industry at the recent party conference in Llandudno.