By Eric Onstad
LONDON – Britain plans to revoke about half the limits on steel imports that it inherited from the European Union when the quotas expire on June 30, the government said on Friday.
The UK steel industry, which generates about $2 billion in turnover each year, has warned the government not to remove any of the EU’s so-called safeguard measures, saying it could spur a flood of imports.
Brussels introduced quotas in 2019 when Britain was still in the bloc to guard against steel shipments normally destined for the United States being redirected to Europe after U.S. President Donald Trump imposed 25% tariffs.
Britain agreed to adopt the safeguard measures when it left the EU’s orbit at the end of last year and must now decide whether to extend them beyond June.
The EU has not yet announced whether it plans to extend the safeguards for its member states.
A UK government advisory body said in a statement that the safeguards, which impose tariffs if imports exceed quotas, should be scrapped in nine out of 19 categories of steel, with the others being extended for three years.
They should be removed in most of the categories because there has been no evidence of a surge in imports, the UK Trade Remedies Investigations Directorate (TRID) said.
Britain produces about 7 million tonnes a year of crude steel and the industry employs some 34,000 people.
The TRID recommendations will be lodged with the World Trade Organisation for comment, after which British trade minister Liz Truss will make a final decision.
TRID was set up following Britain’s departure from the EU to determine measures to restrict imports when there is dumping.
A government source said one of the preliminary recommendations was reversed after feedback from producers, including Liberty Steel which is restructuring and seeking financing after the collapse of its main lender.
Large welded steel tubes used to make offshore wind turbines moved to the protected list after the industry showed that there was significant UK output of the product, the source said.