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Steel industry calls for action on Chinese imports

An emergency meeting has been called by the European Economy Ministers to discuss the crisis in the steel industry, at the UK’s request.

The industry is demanding tougher action against cheap Chinese imports, which the industry blames for low metal prices.

Workers from the UK, Belgium and France will hold a demonstration in Brussels later today, as ministers discuss the situation and consider ways to improve competitiveness.

Gareth Stace, Director of the industry body UK Steel, has said: “The US and other countries have already moved to prevent cheap Chinese imports distorting their markets, and now the EU must do the same, and do so quickly. The UK must seize the moment and encourage a rapid response in Brussels if we’re to prevent large-scale problems for steel makers spreading in Britain and across the continent” [1].

UK Steel says the latest data will show that artificially low-priced reinforcing steel from China will account for more than half the UK market this year [1].

While a 25% collapse in steel prices over the past year has pressed producers around the world, European companies have also been hit by high electricity prices (read our article to find out more) and environmental policies, which competitors do not face [2].

Axel Eggert, Director General of the European steel trade body Eurofur, has called for fairness: “We do not want to block imports, but we would like to see fair trade, and if fair trade is not provided by our trade partners, the EU needs to act and it needs to act immediately” [1].

Sajid Javid, the UK Business Secretary has been urging Brussels to sign off an energy compensation package to provide some relief for UK steel companies. Approval is expected later this month.

 

[1]. BBC News. ‘Steel industry calls for EU action on Chinese imports’. bbc.co.uk

[2]. Financial Times. ‘EU steelmakers call for tougher action against Chinese imports’.  ft.com