UK’s TRA Recommends Safeguard Extension on 10 Steel Categories
Following a review, UK’s Trade Remedies Authority has published its final recommendation to U’s Secretary of State for International Trade on the future of the UK’s steel safeguard measure. After reviewing available evidence, the independent body has recommended the extension of the UK steel safeguard measure across 10 product categories for a further three years and the revocation of the measure across nine product categories. The recommendation to the Secretary of State takes into account close analysis of the 44 submissions that were made to the TRA following the Statement of Intended Preliminary Decision. Pursuant to the relevant regulations, the Secretary of State will now decide whether to accept the TRA’s recommendation or to reject it. Without a decision being made to extend measures, the current steel safeguards will expire on 30 June 2021.
The TRA has recommended the extension of the application of the measure on 10 product categories, ranging from railway materials to the stainless-steel bars used in corrosive environments in the marine and aerospace industries. For all these product categories, there was evidence of both an import surge over the period of investigation (2013-17) and injury to UK producers, and extension of the safeguard measure was judged to be in the economic interests of the UK. Categories recommended for extension represented 37% by volume (around 3.9 million tonnes) of average UK steel and iron imports between 2017 and 2019.
Non Alloy and Other Alloy Hot Rolled Sheets and Strips
Non Alloy and Other Alloy Cold Rolled Sheets
Metallic Coated Sheets
Organic Coated Sheets
Large welded tubes
The TRA has also recommended that safeguard measures on nine product categories, including tin cans used in packaging, are revoked. For seven categories there was either no absolute increase in imports or no significant increase in imports over the period of investigation. For one category, there was an increase in imports, but there was no evidence that increased imports were damaging UK producers. For the last category (stainless steel rods), the TRA determined that the potential impact of continuation of a measure on downstream users of the products meant that extending or varying the measure was not in the overall economic interest of the UK. Categories recommended for revocation represented 18% by volume (around 1.9 million tonnes) of average UK steel and iron imports between 2017 and 2019.
Non Alloy Wire
Non Alloy and Other Alloy Wire Rod
Stainless Wire Rod
Non Alloy and other alloy cold finished bars
Stainless Bars and Light Sections
Angles, Shapes and Sections of Iron or Non Alloy Steel
Non Alloy and Other Alloy Merchant Bars and Light Sections
Non Alloy and Other Alloy Quarto Plates
Tin Mill products
Steel safeguard measures were put in place on 28 categories of steel products by the EU in 2018-19 for an initial period of three years. Safeguards on 19 steel product categories were then transitioned into the UK tariff regime when the UK left the EU Customs Union.
The Trade Remedies Authority is the UK body that investigates whether new trade remedy measures are needed to counter unfair import practices and unforeseen surges of imports. The TRA is an arm’s length body of the Department of International Trade and launched on 1 June 2021. Before its launch, staff operated as the Trade Remedies Investigations Directorate of DIT.
Labour’s Shadow International Trade Minister MP Mr Bill Esterson said “This is a deeply disappointing, if sadly unsurprising, recommendation from an organisation that is fundamentally flawed in its composition and its remit and has simply not given sufficient weight to the implications of this verdict for steelworkers, their families, and the communities that rely on that industry. The Government will say their only option is now to accept this recommendation, but that is simply not true. They must instead accept Labour’s offer to work together in the national interest and come forward with emergency legislation, which we will support, to amend the regulations and allow Britain’s steel safeguards to be maintained in full. That is the only responsible and acceptable course of action to protect the British steel industry and the tens of thousands of jobs it supports.”
UK Steel Director General Mr Gareth Stace said “The TRA’s recommendation to cut in half the UK’s steel safeguard measures is a hammer blow to the UK steel sector and to the many thousands it employs. The recommendation to remove huge elements of the protection steel manufacturers require against import surges is utter madness. On their first major test in a post-Brexit trading environment, the UK’s new system has failed our domestic steel sector. In a global market characterised by trade barriers, the UK unilaterally is cutting its safeguarding measures in half whilst the EU and US keep theirs in place. We will become a magnet for huge volumes of steel imports diverted from these markets, threatening the long-term viability of steel in the UK and calling into question the sector’s ability to make the major investments required for decarbonisation.”
Community steelworkers' union operations director Mr Alasdair McDiarmid said “Shocking decision from the TRA threatens thousands of jobs and the very future of our steel industry. It seems the TRA has failed to understand what this decision means for our industry and our worst fears have been confirmed; our post-Brexit trade defence system is weak, ineffective and not fit for purpose. This Government has had plenty of warm words for steelworkers but we need action now. Failure would make a mockery of Tory promises to support British industry, British workers and industrial communities.”