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UK steel industry drowning in flood of Chinese imports, union leader warns

The UK steel industry is "drowning" in a flood of cheap Chinese imports, which will get worse after the United States decided to impose new tariffs, a union leader has warned.

Community said the US announcement of tariffs of 266% on Chinese steel contrasted starkly with the "measly" 16% Europe introduced last month.

Commenting ahead of the first meeting of a Government-convened Steel Council, general secretary Roy Rickhuss said: "At every opportunity the Business Secretary says he supports a level playing field for UK steel producers, but his government continues to block moves to scrap the Lesser Duty Rule which stops the European Commission imposing meaningful tariffs to prevent Chinese dumping.

"Unless the Secretary of State is prepared to join others in Europe and stand up for our industry soon the debate will be over as we will have no industry left to save. We are drowning in this flood of Chinese imports and the US action will only serve to divert more Chinese steel towards Europe."

Mr Rickhuss said he will ask Business Secretary Sajid Javid how he intends to respond as another market is closed off to UK producers already "fighting for survival".

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb said: "The steel industry is facing a perfect storm from cheap imports and plunging prices.

"With nearly half of the UK's steel industry employed in Wales, we know all too well the human cost of this to Welsh steel workers and their families.

"The Government is fighting unfair trade practices, helping energy costs and supporting those losing their jobs to find employment.

"But we also need a long-term plan to ensure steel-making is sustainable in Britain for decades to come. Steel companies and unions need to be part of that solution, and that's why today's Steel Council is so important."

Gareth Stace, director of trade body UK Steel, said: "The US is showing the way in which to deal with under-priced, unfairly traded and state-supported imports from China.

"It is acting decisively, swiftly and at a level that stops China dumping steel with impunity. By contrast, the meek and mild response in the EU is looking increasingly inadequate.

"It begs the question why the UK Government continues to block EU-level attempts to impose higher tariffs. The UK must lift its opposition to the Lesser Duty Rule so that the EU can aspire to Uncle Sam's strong stance and stand up to the increasing threat posed by China.

"Warm words and limited incremental action are not enough given the crisis conditions faced by steel makers across Europe today."

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