Today in Parliament I called on the UK Government to do more to defend the British steel industry from the effects of new American tariffs on metal imports.
On Thursday 8 March, President Trump announced that the United States would impose a tariff of 25% on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminium imports from 23rd March onwards. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox MP addressed MPs on the issue ahead of his visit to Washington this week to meet the US Commerce Secretary and trade representative
In a question to the Secretary of State, I said “The recovery that we have seen in our steel industry has been fragile. We are facing not only the direct impact of tariffs on our exports but the indirect effects of other countries finding a home for displaced steel. The Government have been slow to act during the steel crisis in the recent past. Can the Secretary of State assure my steelworking constituents that the Government will do everything they can to fight for our industry at this time?”
In his statement to the House of Commons, the Secretary of State said that the Government would work as part of the EU to impose countermeasures against the US tariffs, and stated that the UK Government did not believe the tariffs were justified on the grounds of US national security.
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 new tariffs have been met with opposition from the Community and Unite trade unions and representatives from the UK steel sector. Labour’s Shadow International Trade Secretary said that the White House position on the tariffs being necessary on grounds of threats to the American steel industry or US national security were ‘patently false’.