Seven countries in Europe, including the UK, Germany and France have asked the European Union to take action against cheap steel imports from China and Russia.
Europe’s steel industry has suffered greatly amid the surge of underpriced steel exports from China.
Ministers from the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Belgium, and Luxembourg, sent a joint letter to the European Commission and the chair of the EU Council of Ministers.
They wrote in the letter: “The European steel industry – already weakened by the 2008 economic crisis – is tackling chronic use of unfair trade practices in a context of strong international competition intensified by overcapacity at global level,”
“The European Union cannot remain passive when rising job losses and steelwork closures show that there is a significant and impending risk of collapse in the European steel sector.”
Since 2008 a total of 85,000 EU jobs in the steel sector have been slashed, according to Eurofer. The EU is the second largest steel producer in the world (after China), producing more than 177 million tonnes a year – representing around 11 percent of global output.
The letter calls for a reform of trade defence instruments and an investigation into hot-rolled flat products from China. The aim is for the EU to make full use of policy instruments to tackle unfair trade.
“We should not wait until the damage from unfair practices becomes irreversible for our industry,” they wrote.
Gareth Stace of the UK Steel lobby group, was quoted by The Financial Times as saying: “It’s what we want to see from governments. But we aren’t out of the woods yet. In fact it could get worse before it gets better.”
Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of the British steelworkers’ union Community, commented: “Governments across Europe are finally waking up to the steel crisis that we are facing.”