Gareth Stace, director-general of UK Steel, a division of Make UK, has welcomed the announcement by the Trade Remedy Authority (TRA) concerning a reconsideration of its steel safeguard transition review recommendation.

“The steel sector welcome’s the announcement of the TRA’s formal reconsideration of its original decision to terminate steel safeguards on half of steel products. Such a termination would leave the sector exposed to uncontrolled surges in imports and undermine the effectiveness of the remaining safeguards, threatening the long-term viability of the UK’s steel sector,” said Stace.

“There are strong legal, WTO-compliant, grounds for the maintenance of these measures for the full three-year term. Moreover, at a time when the EU and US have maintained their own protections on all steel products, and the UK’s steel producers face obstacles to exporting into these markets, it is the only sensible course of action to maintain equal measures for our own producers.

“The steel sector welcome’s the announcement of the TRA’s formal reconsideration of its original decision to terminate steel safeguards on half of steel products."

Gareth Stace, director-general, UK Steel

“It is essential that this appeals process provides security and certainty for UK steelmakers and steel communities.”

The UK has had steel safeguards as part of the European Union since 2018. They were transitioned into UK law in January this year and were introduced to limit further increases in imports because of a dysfunctional global trading environment for steel.

The measures allow for tariff-free imports equivalent to 115% of historic levels, with further relaxations every year.

On 30 June this year the TRA recommended to the Secretary of State for Trade that the safeguard measures should be maintained for a further three years on 10 out of 19 different product categories. A temporary one-year extension was provided for five further product categories. World Trade Organisation rules would have prevented their reintroduction following a successful appeal if they had been allowed to lapse.

UK Steel was concerned that if the UK unilaterally removed its measures, the UK steel market would have been left vulnerable and open to import surges as the sector recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, and crucially at a time when our exports to the EU and US are still subject to tariffs and quotas.