Britain has ‘strong argument’ to support steel industry, says minister
LONDON (Reuters) -Britain has a “strong argument” to support its steel industry, business minister Kwasi Kwarteng said on Tuesday, days after the government proposed to extend tariffs by two years to protect domestic steelmakers.
“Every single G7 country produces steel and every single one of them support those industries, and the reason they support it is because it’s strategic,” Kwarteng said in response to a question on steel tariffs from a parliamentary panel.
“If everyone else is supporting a strategic industry, I think there is a strong argument for us in this country to do so.”
Britain proposed last week to extend tariffs and quotas on five steel products, with a final decision expected this week, aimed at supporting an industry that employs 34,000 workers and makes $2 billion in annual turnover.
When asked whether the government would extend steel tariffs, Kwarteng did not give a direct answer.
A media report on Sunday said Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also seeking tighter quotas for steel imports from emerging economies in a move that could breach international trade rules.
Also on Sunday, Johnson, speaking at the G7 summit in Germany, said it was reasonable to consider ways of protecting British steelmakers against surging energy costs which are less of a problem for their foreign competitors.
He said Britain should not to remove tariffs unilaterally without other European countries doing it too.
(Reporting by Muvija M, writing by Sachin Ravikumar, editing by William James)