Commenting on Trump’s Executive Order confirming 25% tariffs on British steel imports to the USA, Stephen Kinnock, Member of Parliament for Aberavon, home of the Port Talbot steelworks said,
“President Trump’s signing of an Executive Order imposing steel tariffs is a milestone moment for the future of the British steel industry, and for the future of the rules-based global economy. And once again, our government and Prime Minister have been found wanting.
“Theresa May has, again, let down British steelworkers. Ever since Trump first announced punitive tariffs on steel and aluminium last week, the British steel industry, unions and steel MPs have been calling on her to make the case against these tariffs and for a UK exemption.
“Tonight we learnt that she has abjectly failed in that task.
“Earlier this week, Trump talked about exemptions for Canada, Mexico and Australia. That the United Kingdom was missing from that list show how weak and isolated the Prime Minister has become and we risk becoming as a country. She was quick to hold Trumps hand in the White House last year, but she has shown that she hasn’t got what it takes to force his hand on steel tariffs or do what is required to protect and support the British steel industry.
“The EU is set to move quickly to take action against Trump for these tariffs, and the Prime Minister must make clear that we will carry on such measures after Brexit, and that we will have a rigorous anti-dumping regime in place to protect us from the increased threat of illegal Chinese dumping after we have left the EU. That means listening to cross-party calls for to fix the Trade and Customs Bill currently going through Parliament.
“The Trump tariffs show how out of touch and simplistic he is. The only way that we will effectively combat Chinese overproduction and illegal dumping of steel is through coordinated international action.
“World Leaders should be working together to bring a case against China at the WTO, not imposing indiscriminate, scatter-gun tariffs that hit key allies as well as bad actors like the Chinese. That we have been unable to stop this unilateral undermining of the rules based economic system is deeply troubling and shows how weak the transatlantic relationship is, and how fractured the world and the West has become
“These tariffs are justified on the grounds of national security, yet are set to hit us – historically America’s closest political, military, intelligence and security partner and a key NATO ally – as hard as they will hit adversaries and dumpers like China.
“What’s more, these tariffs will be utterly self-defeating for America. George Bush introduced smaller tariffs than these back in 2002 and it cost over 200,000 jobs in the United States, with more American jobs being lost in industries connected to the US steel industry in the first 8 months of the tariffs than there were total steel jobs at the time.
“Add to that the fact that most of the steel the US imports from the UK are the types of cutting edge steel that they lack the capability and capacity to produce, and we see that Trump is cutting off nose to spite his face with this reckless bit of nationalist virtual signalling.
“Trump’s reckless, shoot from the hip approach will do the same or worse as the 2002 tariffs: after all, they say history repeats itself as farce. It will hurt British steelworkers, cost American jobs and he’s going to be forced into a u-turn, just like Bush.
“Around 15% of UK steel exports are to the USA, and the Prime Minister’s failure to secure a a UK opt-out risks leaving us dangerously exposed. This all highlights that the government cannot waste any more time in getting behind the Steel Sector Deal by cutting our uncompetitive energy prices, because doing so would mean increased production, investment and jobs in the British steel industry.”