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Commerce and Industry

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UK Steel: the steel industry will be plunged into further crisis if Britain votes to leave the EU

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The Director of UK Steel, Gareth Stace, has warned against a Brexit vote, saying Britain is best placed to prevent cheap Chinese steel imports if it remains part of the EU.

He also says that 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. 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 block, 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. Further to this, while it has been suggested that a UK free of the shackles of Brussels would be free to implement significant trade tariffs to guard against future dumping of Chinese steel, there is scant evidence that the Government would actually do this. Indeed the European Commission has been keen to introduce more rigorous measures in this area, but has been prevented from doing so by UK interventions.

Mr Stace added:

Furthermore, some have sought to claim that the EU is the cause of high energy prices for our big industrial users. It’s not.

There are many reasons for the UK’s uncompetitive electricity prices and nearly all of them are home grown and can be rectified by the UK Government. We only have to look at the significantly lower prices available to German industry to see the truth of this. Indeed, we estimate that less than 10 per cent of the policy costs added to electricity prices may be linked to EU energy policy. The UK Government has taken significant action in this area, but we stress that it can and should do more – our membership of the EU has no bearing on its ability to do so.

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