Conservatives call for EU action to help the steel industry

16-Dec-2015 @ 17:0

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Conservative MEPs have pledged to continue fighting for effective European action to help the steel industry after voting against proposed measures they fear could spark a trade war with China.

The European Parliament today approved a report calling for the introduction of a complex system of border measures on imported steel, aluminium and other base metals based on the amount of carbon emitted during their production.

These are intended to push up the cost of imports from countries such as China, which have flooded the European market and contributed to job losses across the EU, including at plants in Redcar, Scunthorpe and Motherwell.

But the Conservatives say the measures, which were supported by Labour and SNP MEPs, would be impossible to implement, may be illegal under World Trade Organisation rules, are not supported by the steel industry and could prompt damaging protectionist retaliation from the Chinese hitting a range of sectors.

Instead they want the EU to follow the United States and make greater use of existing anti-dumping duties against China to stem the tide of cheap imports.

"The steel industry needs practical help now at a European level, not unrealistic and ideological measures like this carbon mechanism plan that have zero chance of becoming law," said Industry spokesman Ashley Fox.

"The US has begun steps to protect its steel industry through anti-dumping measures and that is what the EU should do if China is proven to be breaking trade rules."

International Trade Spokesman Emma McClarkin has been pressuring the Commission over a number of weeks on this issue, but believes any action to combat unfair trading practices must be effective.

She said: "The British steel industry is facing unprecedented pressures and it is up to the Commission to act. This must be done within the established rules however, for it to work. There is very little point on embarking on action that is unworkable and instead we must play by the rules to encourage China to do the same.

"The way forward is to confirm, in a timely manner, that dumping is taking place and to take measures to prevent injury to our industry, such as anti-dumping duties."

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