According to a report in UK newspaper the Financial Times, British steel producers will have to pay a 25% tariff to sell certain construction products into Northern Ireland after EU quotas for global imports were exhausted earlier than expected.
Steel producers and stockholders were informed of the new tariff on 24 August in a notice from HM Revenue & Customs, prompting criticism from industry officials.
“It is beyond farcical that UK producers are now prevented by these tariffs from selling goods to customers in their own country.”Gareth Stace, director-general of UK Steel
“It is beyond farcical that UK producers are now prevented by these tariffs from selling goods to customers in their own country,” said Gareth Stace, director-general of UK Steel, the industry trade association. “To add insult to injury EU steel producers can continue to export these goods tariff free throughout the UK, but we can no longer do so in the opposite direction,” he added.
Both of the candidates to replace Boris Johnson as UK prime minister next month have committed to passing legislation that will give UK ministers powers to unilaterally rewrite the protocol which they have declared to be ‘unworkable’. Brussels has warned that if the UK forges ahead with the legislation it will be in breach of its international treaty commitments and risks the possible suspension of the entire EU-UK trade co-operation agreement. Under the deal governing post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland, all goods going from Great Britain must pay EU tariffs if they are ‘at risk’ of crossing into the Republic of Ireland and the EU single market. When the Northern Ireland protocol came into force at the start of 2021, a temporary workaround was established which gave British companies a specific quota for exporting into the province tariff-free. This changed in July following a decision in Brussels to lump together individual national quotas. This has opened up Britain’s share to other countries which have been quicker to use the global quota, according to UK Steel.
“Countries like Turkey are using up big chunks of the quota and there is none left for anyone else.”Richard Warren, UK Steel head of policy
“Countries like Turkey are using up big chunks of the quota and there is none left for anyone else,” said Richard Warren, UK Steel head of policy.
UK steel companies fear that this will encourage customers to switch to EU suppliers to avoid the uncertainty of tariffs. A UK government spokesperson said: “This is another example of how the Northern Ireland Protocol is needlessly damaging trade within the UK. We are in constant contact with industry representatives on practical solutions to this issue, but a long-term solution requires changes to the Protocol.”
Source: the Financial Times