British Cabinet Split over Protection of British Steel Industry
The Telegraph reported that British Cabinet split has opened up over Britain’s steel industry, which is fighting to keep safeguards that protect it from imports of cheap foreign steel. UK’s Trade Secretary Ms Liz Truss is under pressure from steel makers not to drop a series of measures that impose tariffs on imports of steel but UK’s Business Secretary Mr Kwasi Kwarteng is understood to back retaining the measures. At a meeting last week between the industry, Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng, steel companies claimed the TRA’s recommendations were flawed, being based on partial data and showed a complete disregard for the practical consideration on the sector. They added that the TRA did not take into account that the US and EU are keeping in place their own trade protections, leaving Britain exposed to steel imports. The industry suggested tweaks to legislation which they claim could be quickly made, allowing six of the nine safeguards to be kept while remaining compliant to World Trade Organisation rules.
Insiders say that Mr Kwarteng was supportive of the suggestions, while Ms Truss, who decides on whether to accept the TRA’s recommendations, was against them.
In a desperate attempt to keep the protections as the deadline for a ruling nears, the steel industry has written directly to UK’s Prime Minister Mr Boris Johnson, urging him to go over Ms Truss’s head and amend the legislation so the safeguards can be kept in place.
Under current rules, the Department for International Trade can accept the TRA’s recommendations or reject them on public interest grounds. But if Ms Truss rejects the recommendations, all 19 safeguards would expire, opening up Britain to a flood of imports.
A Department for International Trade spokesman said “Any forcing through of legislation in order to disregard the TRA recommendation, which is based on evidence provided by interested parties including importers, domestic producers and overseas exporters, would breach WTO rules, leaving us open to challenge and retaliation.”