Britain’s steelmakers have warned that UK steel exports to the United States could be damaged by US protectionist measures to counter the dumping of cheap Chinese steel.
The warning comes on the back of President Trump’s initiation of a ‘Section 232’ investigation into the effects of steel imports on US national security.
According to UK Steel, total exports to the US in the last 12 months were 250,000 tonnes, worth some £350m which accounts for almost 8% of total exports from the UK. 70% of UK steel exports currently go to the EU and therefore the US is a significant market.
In response UK Steel has already raised the issue with the UK Government and is seeking further clarification and support and is currently working with its members to gain a full understanding of the potential impact to the sector.
UK Steel Director Gareth Stace commented; “Whilst the full details of the scope of this investigation are still unclear, this is undoubtedly a worrying development. The UK sector is entirely supportive of measures taken to tackle dumping of steel products and unscrupulous trading practices but this move has the potential to go much further than necessary.
“The principle of free trade is of huge importance to the global steel sector, and any action that moves us away from it is a significant concern. Trade defence instruments must be seen as a last resort to protect domestic industries and ultimately boost global free trade. This move at least has the potential to cross the line into protectionism which in the long term can only be harmful to the global sector.”