John has warned the Government risks putting British steel yards out of business as Ministers consider scrapping safeguards to protect the industry from foreign steel dumping.
The Trade Remedies Investigations Directorate (TRID) published its final recommendation today (Friday 11 June). The body recommends axing protections for the British steel industry by removing several categories of steel from safeguard measures.
One of the products set to be removed is wire steel, produced at the Liberty plant in Rotherham.
The US and EU are keeping protections in place.
John said: “This decision puts unnecessary extra pressure on Britain’s steel-makers. It takes Britain in totally the wrong direction when the UK steel industry needs a long-term plan, backed by the Government using its procurement powers to help.
“The public expect British Ministers to stand up for British industry and British jobs, not open the flood gates to unfairly cheap Chinese imports.”
Last month John wrote to Liz Truss MP, Secretary of State for International Trade, describing the decision of the TRID as “incomprehensible.” He urged her to rethink and reject the recommendations.
He said in the letter: “It risks the British steel industry being undercut by a flood of cheap imports from countries such as China that unfairly subsidise production.
“Such deliberately hostile action from China was the reason the steel safeguards were put in place and your decision now puts at risk the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of steel workers across the country.
“UK steel makers expect their government to stand up for British industry, not do it damage by making such needlessly bad decisions.
“It creates unfair competition and puts at great risk highly skilled, well paid jobs like at Liberty Steel in South Yorkshire.”
John, who is Labour’s shadow defence secretary as well as MP for Wentworth & Dearne, said scrapping the safeguards would threaten the chances of the UK steel industry securing key defence contracts.
A number of the steel categories set to be removed are used to construct British warships that protect our country’s waters. The decision could lead to the UK losing the sovereign capability to produce the steel product needed to construct British warships – requiring imports from abroad.
John has been urging the Government to adopt a ‘British-built by default’ approach to defence equipment to protect jobs in the defence sector and boost UK manufacturing, and to back British steelworkers by guaranteeing they want to see UK steel used in all government infrastructure projects.