The recommendation, described as a ‘hammer blow’ by industry bodies, was made by the Trade Remedies Authority (TRA), an independent body tasked with protecting UK industry from unfair competition.
He advised Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss that the so-called “guarantees” on nine of the 19 grades of steel should be removed.
Safeguards, first imposed in 2018 when the UK was part of the European Union, mean that some imports are subject to a 25% tariff once a given quota has been exceeded.
Ms. Truss has until the end of the month to accept or reject the recommendation, at which time the 19 guarantees will lapse.
His decision is seen as a first test of UK trade policy after Brexit.
UK Steel chief executive Gareth Stace said the move was disastrous for domestic producers.
“TRA’s recommendation to halve UK steel safeguards is a hammer blow to the UK steel industry and the thousands of people it employs,” he said. -he declares.
“The recommendation to remove huge pieces of the protection steelmakers need against import surges is sheer folly.
“In their first major test in a post-Brexit business environment, the new UK system failed in our national steel industry.
“In six months, the British regime has proved ill-equipped to cope with the rapidly changing global trading environment. “
The TRA recommended that protections for 10 of the 19 zones, covering more than 250 products, be maintained.
Liberty Steel, the struggling British branch of Alliance GFG de Sanjeev Gupta, successfully argued that tariff rate quotas for large welded steel tubes of the type used for wind towers should continue to be protected.
But safeguards for nine other product areas are expected to be removed in accordance with the TRA, which is bound by three criteria under World Trade Association rules.
According to the regulations, safeguards can only be applied in the event of a sudden increase in imports into a given area; that the imports cause “injury” to the domestic industry; and that the imposition of guarantees will be in the economic interest of the United Kingdom.
Oliver Griffiths, Managing Director of TRA, said: “The Trade Remedies Authority was created by statute to provide unbiased, data-driven economic assessments like this steel warranties recommendation.
“We have listened carefully to all interested parties throughout the review and have made significant changes to our preliminary ruling in light of new information provided over the past few weeks. “
Bill Esterson, the shadow Minister of International Trade for Labor, said: “This is a deeply disappointing – so sadly unsurprising – recommendation from an organization that is fundamentally flawed in its makeup and remit. “
He said the TRA “simply did not give enough weight to the implications of this verdict for steelworkers, their families and the communities that depend on this industry.”
Ms. Truss’s options are limited.
She can accept the TRA recommendation as written, or reject it on the grounds that it is not in the public interest.
If it rejected the recommendation, the tariff rate quotas on all 19 product categories would expire on June 30.
A spokesperson for the Department of International Trade said: “The Commerce Secretary’s decision on the recommendation will be released before the measure expires on June 30, 2021.”