Britain’s steel industry is suffering thanks to its membership of the European Union (EU), one of its leading figures has said.
Yesterday, Tata Steel announced it was pulling out of the United Kingdom, leaving Britain’s biggest steel works in Port Talbot, Wales facing closure with 4,000 job losses, blaming an influx of cheap steel imports from China.
There has been talk of the government stepping in to bail out Port Talbot, but Simon Boyd, director of Reid Steel, told Sky News that EU regulation is to blame.
“State aid rules mean that government is prevented from doing what’s necessary,” he said.
“We in our membership of the European Union are prevented from intervening in a way that other governments can. If you look at what happened in America for example, Chinese dumping went on there, the Americans put an appropriate tariff on imported steel, problem solved.”
America was able to impose a 266 per cent tariff, but under EU rules Britain can only impose a 24 per cent import tax.
USA imposes a 266% tariff on cheap steel allowing its own industry to thrive
The benefit of being a sovereign nation pic.twitter.com/eMIaflUgeI
— Leave.EU (@LeaveEUOfficial) March 30, 2016
“Here we have to follow the guidelines from Brussels, don’t we? Our government is pretty powerless in setting its own tariff for the UK,” he added.
When asked whether the government could still have done more to help Port Talbot even with the EU’s framework, Mr Boyd responded:
“I’m not a politician, I can only give you my business take on this. I’m looking after our company, our employees, and I want to make sure there’s a viable steel industry going forward indefinitely. But to do that we have to get control back to our elected ministers. We don’t have that control.”
“If you go to a minister over an issue that’s coming out of Brussels, whether it’s tariffs or whether it’s over-regulation we’re simply told: ‘Nothing we can do about it, Brussels rules.'”