I worry about our so-called ‘political elite’ and its ability to ‘do the right thing’. Like a lot of people I was disappointed with the result of the UK's EU referendum.
While it’s good to see ‘democracy at work’, the decision to leave the EU appears to be because there are many people living in the UK whose needs and concerns are simply ignored by those in positions of power. June 23 was payback time.
Turning the political status quo on its head appears to be a global trend and one that can be predicted, it seems, simply by working out what would be the worst outcome and then betting on it. So, the UK leaving the EU – not a great idea, but hey ho, it’s happened. The nightmare has become reality. What’s next? Oh, yes. Donald Trump. Once considered a joke candidate to be voted leader of the free world, depending upon your world view, but guess what? A Trump presidency is looking increasingly likely.
When it comes to the global steel industry, the common wisdom is that giving China Market Economy Status (MES) would not be a good idea. Last week in Brussels the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), an influential group whose opinion is valued by European Commission officials in charge of decision-making, called for the abolition of the lesser duty rule and the need to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of trade defence instruments. “Enough is enough. We have to save our steel,” said Andrés Barceló, rapporteur of the EESC opinion on Steel: Preserving sustainable jobs and growth in Europe. He said it was time to ‘restore a level playing field for Europe’s steel industry’.
The EESC believes that granting MES to China would be a ‘serious setback for Europe’s ambitions for sustainable development and the fight against climate change’. But it goes beyond steel. It would affect the aluminium, bicycle, ceramic, glass, motor vehicle parts and paper industries, the EESC claims.
The global steel industry has been making similar arguments for many years, but as the time approaches for making the big decision, I worry. Jean-Claude Juncker and Chinese premier Li Keqiang seem far too cosy for my liking and talk of an ‘EU deal to assuage steel dumping concerns’ makes me wonder whether another big political mistake is looming large.