Steel safeguarding approach still poses a threat to thousands of UK manufacturing jobs

1 min read

The stark warning comes from The Confederation of British Metalforming (CBM), which has seen its 200+ members severely impacted from tariffs designed to protect parts of the UK steel production sector that are currently ill equipped to meet actual domestic demand.

Thousands of manufacturing jobs and tens of companies could still be lost in the domestic supply chain if the Government does not reconsider its approach to steel safeguarding. This means tier1s and sub-contractors to automotive, aerospace, construction and general engineering have been paying hundreds of thousands of pounds to import their ‘Category 12’ steel - including critical quality and performance bar and section - from European mills, as the quarterly tariff-free quotas are running out within a month.

Recent pleas from the CBM to remove engineering metals under the 7228 code has seen the Government act, almost doubling the available quotas for this category before the 25% tariff kicks in.

Whilst this move is welcomed as a small sign of progress, it does not go far enough to remove the unnecessary financial cost and injury being felt down the supply chain and raises the very real prospect of lost orders and production being moved away from the UK. “We acknowledge the substantive increase in the Category 12A quota and welcome the motivation to rebalance an unfair and severely damaging position that has led to it,” explained Steve Morley, President of the CBM.

The Confederation of British Metalforming is keen to support a vibrant UK steel industry that delivers world class performance and quality at a cost that is competitive.

Recent investment by British Steel in Scunthorpe is a shot in the arm for the sector, but there is a need for other major players in the industry to show the same level of commitment to producing steel in the volumes and specifications required by UK manufacturing.

Steve went on to add: “British steel mills have not been able to supply the Cat 12a materials our members need to support critical domestic and export supply chains, nor are they likely to be able to do so in the near future. So, what exactly are the Government looking to protect? It certainly isn’t UK jobs in downstream metal manufacturing!

“The increase in quotas need to go further and we are therefore requesting that Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the Secretary of State for International Trade, adjusts the level of the Category 12A quota for imports from Europe to 33,000 tonnes per quarter.

“This is the only solution that will have virtually no effect on UK steelmakers, but, at the same time, will allow our members to import materials when required without the risk of incurring 25% additional costs."