Today I challenged the Prime Minister on his support for market economy status for China during PMQ’s
“The dumping of Chinese steel is crippling the British steel industry
The granting of ‘market economy’ status to china, will dramatically reduce scope for taking anti-dumping measures. Why then is the Prime Minister supporting ‘market economy’ status for china, is it because he puts cosying up to Beijing ahead of protecting British industry?” – Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon
The response form the Prime Minister:
“I put helping British industry first, that is why we cut taxes for British industry, we’re cutting the energy bills for British Industry, were helping with apprenticeships, we’re busting open markets abroad, so the British industries can succeed. And crucially for the steel industry we are investing in our infrastructure and trying to make sure there’s a real forward order book for British steel.
I think the Hon gentleman is wrong, we should take these two issues separately, if there is illegal dumping, then we will support action in the European Union, and that can be done in spite of the status that a country has, we’ve actually put those sorts of burdens on America, before today, so I don’t think he’s right to connect the two issues in the way he does.” – David Cameron, Prime Minister
I was deeply disappointed, but not in the least surprised, by the Prime Minister’s answer. Of course, he is correct in saying that it is still possible to take anti-dumping action against countries that have Market Economy Status (MES) in the World Trade Organisation, but the key point (as I alluded to in my question) is that granting MES dramatically reduces the scope for taking such action.
It is transparently obvious that the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have a thinly veiled, half-hidden agenda, which is this: they have agreed to take Beijing’s cash in exchange for being China’s chief cheerleader in Europe, and they see the jobs and livelihoods of steel workers in Port Talbot and all over the UK as collateral damage – no more and no less. Cozying up to Beijing is their driving obsession; building a sustainable future for British steel isn’t even on their radar.
China is currently classed as a non-market economy within the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and that is quite right: 70% of the Chinese steel industry is government-owned, and the remaining 30% receives huge tax rebates that are tantamount to massive state subsidies. So, how on earth has the Prime Minister come to the conclusion that China is now a market economy…? I think we all know the answer to that question.
‘Building a sustainable future for British steel isn’t even on their radar’– Stephen Kinnock
We must now mount a nation-wide campaign to force the UK government to withdraw its support for giving MES to China. The decision on this will be taken in Brussels, in December of this year, as the UK is represented through the European Union at the WTO. I will be discussing this campaign with UK Steel (the body that represents the entire British steel industry), along with Tata Steel, Community Union, other steel unions, and my colleagues in parliament, and hope to make progress in the coming weeks.