Lower guarantees on British steel risk shutting down factories that produce metal for Royal Navy warships, Labor warned tonight.
The Tories are on the verge of removing defenses to protect UK manufacturers from cheap foreign imports.
Senior industry officials fear the move could put the industry at risk as it struggles to compete with foreign rivals.
Labor will force a vote on the issue on Monday after an opposition day debate.
Shadow Secretary of Defense John Healey has warned that the removal of the measures could trigger the shutdown of UK factories – and force the Navy to buy overseas when building ships.
He said: âThis move puts unnecessary additional pressure on UK steelmakers.
âThis is taking Britain in the wrong direction when the British steel industry needs a long-term plan, backed by the government using its purchasing power to help.
âThe public expects British ministers to defend British industry and British jobs, not to open the floodgates to unfairly cheap Chinese imports.
âA major test of the government’s long-promised national shipbuilding strategy will be the plans to develop the UK steel industry as a basis for strengthening the UK economy and sovereignty. “
The Mirror revealed in 2016 how the steel for the new Dreadnought nuclear submarine fleet was imported from France.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss is expected to decide within days whether to accept a recommendation from the Trade Remedies Authority to remove the safeguards.
Legally, she is obligated to follow his advice.
A number of categories of steel which are to be removed from the measures are used to build British warships, according to the Labor Party.
The party warned that the move could lead the UK to lose sovereign ability to produce the steel needed by ships.
Protections were introduced by the EU in 2018 when the UK was part of Brussels trade rules, in retaliation for Donald Trump’s White House imposition of tariffs on steel imports.
The Brussels measures continued in Britain until January, when the Brexit transition ended.
The UK regime has set duty-free quotas for a range of steel products based on 2015-2017 import levels.
It is only when fulfilled that customs duties are applied to any additional imports over a period of three months.
The measures have been extended until this month, but the UK’s Trade Remedy Investigations Directorate recommended they be relaxed – a move backed by the TRA.
Shipbuilding and Engineers Confederation General Secretary Ian Waddell said: ‘It is absolutely vital that we maintain our ability to design, build and maintain warships in the UK using gasoline. British steel.
âThis will support thousands of highly skilled jobs and inject resources into our regional economies through wages and investments that will be spent locally in stores and businesses.
âRemoving these safeguards will put the rug under the feet of thousands of employees at a time when help is needed most. “
Community Steelworkers Union Operations Director Alasdair McDiarmid said: âThe Trade Remedies Authority’s move threatens thousands of jobs and Britain’s ability to produce steel essential to our country’s defense.
âSteel warranties protect us from flooding from cheap foreign imports and it would be an unforgivable act of self-harm to abandon our protections while the EU and US maintain their own defenses.
âThis government has had many warm words for the steelworkers, but we must act now; failure would deride the Conservatives’ promises to support British industry, British workers and the industrial communities.
UK Steel Managing Director Gareth Stace said: âPlans to cut UK steel warranties in half are reckless and irresponsible.
âSteel is a basic industry, fundamental to our economy and our national security.
âBy removing half of the steel protection measures, the Trade Remedies Authority and the government will expose the entire industry to flooding of imports and damage the case for investment in steel facilities across the country. “
A government spokesperson said, âAll interested parties including importers, domestic producers and foreign exporters were able to participate in the review to provide evidence to be considered in the assessment of the Trade. Remedies Authority.
âThe TRA is a non-ministerial public body and all of its decisions are based on a careful analysis of the evidence.
“The Secretary of Commerce’s decision on the recommendation will be released before the measure expires on June 30, 2021.”
‘It will damage our industry three times.
UK Steel Managing Director Gareth Stace and Community Steelworkers Union General Secretary Roy Rickhuss write exclusively for the Mirror.
The UK steel industry is a fundamental industry – fundamental to our economy and the communities around it.
The communities that make steel are defined by this industry, and the decline or closure of factories and facilities can have devastating consequences on livelihoods that linger for generations.
This month, the independent government body, the Trade Remedies Authority, recommended to Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss that flood protections for imports from foreign producers should be reduced by half, reducing the protection our steel industry enjoys compared to other EU-based steelmakers.
On Monday, the government faced a motion in parliament urging it to extend all safeguards and address some of the loopholes that led to this TRA decision which ministers themselves admitted to be flawed.
While the government appears to be examining the relevance of its own powers to overturn flawed recommendations, steelworkers across the country can’t wait, and steelmakers can’t afford to be the canary in the coal mine, either. suffering so that the government can correct errors in their own legislation.
The world steel market suffers from overcapacity; only 2% of this global overcapacity could meet the total annual demand for steel on the UK market.
The UK has had steel guarantees since 2018, as a member of the EU, and these were incorporated into UK law in January 2021.
The measures were introduced to limit further increases in imports due to a dysfunctional global trade environment for steel, by protecting product quotas for steel customers from tariffs, while setting a cap on duty-free trade to allow domestic producers to compete with international producers. which face much lower costs.
The EU has now confirmed, and the US is certain to keep its own protections for its steelmakers.
This will damage our industry three times.
First, it means that products will be sent to the UK when they may have already been to the EU and the US.
Second, EU and US companies will be able to export products to the UK without having to worry about exceeding their quotas.
Third, our own producers will not be able to develop their own export markets to make up for lost ground, as we will always face dramatic barriers to foreign trade.
By unilaterally removing our own measures, our market will open up to import surges just as the industry begins to recover from Covid-19 and at a time when our exports to the EU and US will still be subject to tariffs and quotas.
Only two of the world’s 10 largest steel markets have no protection.
We will become the third unprotected steel market in this group, and our steelworkers and steelworkers will suffer.
Our sector faces challenges; from soaring electricity costs and a difficult global market to the challenge of decarbonization.
But we want to help fight climate change and play our part in leveling Britain.
At no time has the steel industry asked Britain to lift the drawbridge and prevent free trade from happening.
What we are asking for is the ability to compete fairly.
The steel sector benefits from good relations between workers and employers, unions and industry.
We speak with one voice on the issue of safeguards, and we implore the government to find a way, and if necessary to legislate, to prevent this disastrous recommendation from taking effect.
We must be clear that the removal of our guarantees threatens thousands of jobs and the future of our steel industry.
If you want to level Britain, don’t level our steel industry.