Sunday, 20 March 2016

Time to show some Steel

This column was published in the Llanelli Star on March 16th 2016

"We won't have the luxury of talking about steel because there won't be steel" Welsh Economy Minister Edwina Hart told AMs last week.

“We've got to have an industry in Europe that produces for Europe," she said, as concern grows that the Conservatives in Westminster are failing to lead action against China for ‘dumping’ its cheap steel on the European markets. 

The Chinese have too much steel on their hands now that their economy is slowing down. 

They’re trying to sell it at cut price rates we can’t compete with. Last September for example, China exported 11.5 million tonnes of cut-price steel in one month  - that is almost as much steel as the UK produces in a whole year.

If left unchecked this discounting could wipe out the steel industry in the UK.   

The USA have just imposed a new 266% tax on on Chinese coiled steel coming into America, while the same steel faces tariffs of just 16% when imported into the EU.But UK Ministers, who want to cosy up to the Chinese Government, are not stepping in to protect our steel industry from this unfair competition

UK Steel, the body representing the UK steel industry has told AMs last week that UK ministers were among the "ringleaders" blocking higher tariffs on Chinese steel. UK Steel policy chief Dominic King said Ministers are effectively saying to Chinese producers "please dump here".

When Chinese President Xi’s came to the UK on state visit at the end of last year the only person to confront him about the effect of this so-called ‘dumping of steel was Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

This inaction by the Tories has direct consequences for jobs in Llanelli. We urgently need David Cameron to show the same level of support he’s given to bankers to our manufacturing base.

Lee Waters is Welsh Labour’s Assembly candidate for Llanelli

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