US steel tariff exemption extension receives cool welcome from business leaders

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 1 May 2018

A TEMPORARY extension has been granted for EU nations from the US steel and aluminium tariffs. 

President Trump has issued proclamations to modify the Section 232, including  includes the extension of exemptions for the EU, Canada and Mexico, while negotiations continue and the finalisation of an agreement with South Korea. 

UK Steel director, Gareth Stace, said: "Today’s announcement will be greeted with a certain sense of relief from UK steel producers. As the exemption deadline edged ever closer with no sign of a deal being struck, we had increasingly been expecting the worst and the immediate introduction of tariffs. A further extension to the EU exemption gives us a little more breathing room to continue discussions and find a way through the current impasse to reach a permanent agreement that works for all parties.

“However, this extension comes with a health-warning. 30 days does not give us much time and all signs point towards a US insistence on the restriction of steel exports by its allies. Such an outcome would be viewed in a dim light by many here; indeed for some it could have a greater impact than tariffs alone."

Read more: British Steel: The Movie - out now!

 Agreements in principle have also been reached with Argentina, Australia, and Brazil and are highly likely to be based on hard quotas based on a proportion of historical import levels (2016-17), similar to South Korea’s agreement.

Ben Digby, CBI international director, said: “Firms in the UK and the EU can breathe a small sigh of relief that they continue to be exempt from the President’s trade tariffs, following the Government’s engagement with the White House.

“However, as the stay of exemption has only been granted for one extra month, there is a sense of the can having been kicked down the road.

“Businesses urgently need to know what would have to happen for the exemption to become permanent, to properly reflect the close trading relationship between the USA and the UK - the UK is the largest foreign investor in America, and British companies support over one million jobs in the USA, from Alaska to New York.

Read more: Steel tycoon to launch bank aimed at helping British industry trade globally after Brexit

“Prolonging the uncertainty around these tariffs is a lose-lose for all concerned – it damages prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic. Firms cannot continue making investment decisions based on short-term uncertain deadlines, and we will continue to work closely with the U.S. Administration to protect British trade, jobs and growth.”

On May 21, the CBI will publish Sterling Assets 9: British investment creating US jobs – a report looking at the economic impact of British firms on the American economy and US trade in goods and services with the UK.

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