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UK steel industry 'needs EU clout over cheap Chinese imports'

Published 16/06/2016

UK Steel director Gareth Stace has warned of the impact of Brexit on the British steel industry
UK Steel director Gareth Stace has warned of the impact of Brexit on the British steel industry

A steel industry official has warned against a Brexit vote, saying Britain is best placed to prevent cheap Chinese steel imports if it remains part of the EU.

UK Steel director Gareth Stace said the high cost of energy is a "home-grown" problem that can be fixed by the UK Government.

He said: "The future health and competitiveness of the British steel sector is heavily dependent on remaining within the European Union," he said.

"It is highly concerning to hear the myths being peddled by those who wish to leave the EU, opportunistically seizing on the crisis facing our sector.

"The EU is by far the largest market for steel outside of the UK and common sense dictates that it would be folly to break that link while the sector is battling for survival.

"As a huge trading bloc, the EU has significantly more clout in discussions with China regarding the need to curb over-production and subsidised exports that are proving so damaging to our sector."

Meanwhile, Unilever has written to around 100,000 employees and pensioners to make clear the household goods giant would be "negatively impacted" if Britain left the EU.

Chief executive officer Paul Polman and three of his predecessors said in the letter: "While of course the EU needs continuously to adapt and improve, we believe that is best achieved when the UK has the self-confidence to lead in Europe, as it has done so effectively in the past, for example on issues like the single market and enlargement.

"It is not for us to suggest how people might vote. Many factors need to be considered. We respect that. But in taking this hugely important and irreversible decision, we feel a responsibility to point out that Unilever in the UK, with its thriving operating company, international research centres, factories and global headquarters, would, in our considered opinion, be negatively impacted if the UK were to leave the European Union.

"We therefore hope that in the interests of Unilever, the UK, Europe, and indeed the wider global economy, the UK will choose to Remain and thereby continue to play a central role in Unilever's long-term growth and prosperity."

The trade body representing Europe's metal, engineering and technology industries and a European trade union which counts seven million workers among its membership warned that Brexit would hit investment in UK manufacturing.

In a joint statement, CEEMET (Council of European Employers of the Metal, Engineering and Technology-Based Industries) and industriALL said: "Re-erecting political borders and economic hurdles are not a solution to address the challenges that Europe, including the UK, face and eventually would be detrimental to the prosperity of both the UK and the EU.

"We believe, based on economic analysis made for the sector, that investment in UK manufacturing would fall and the British economy would shrink in size should it leave the EU. However the knock-on effects across the single market because of the interdependency of supply chains could prove highly damaging for other member states."

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