China’s steel levy seals the evidence: Tories are enemies of British industry

Prophetic: This image was created before the Chinese raised their levy on UK-produced steel. Its creator was absolutely right.

Prophetic: This image was created before the Chinese raised their levy on UK-produced steel. Its creator was absolutely right.

The Conservative Government has condemned British steel to commercial death by working very hard to become China’s lapdog.

How else are we to view these events?

Tory ministers stopped the EU slapping import levies on Chinese steel; they are doing as little as possible to prevent the soon-to-be former Tata steelworks in the UK from closing; and now China has imposed a huge levy on steel from the UK.

We can take only one message from this fiasco:

The Conservative Party is the biggest enemy British industry ever had.


Steelworkers are threatened today; who will be in jeopardy tomorrow?

Do you have a job? How long do you expect to keep it under a Tory government that simply doesn’t “give a sh*t” – as Paul Mason told us all yesterday?

Remember this when you vote in May.

China has said it will levy 46 per cent duties on a type of high tech steel produced by Tata Steel in Wales, Sky News has learned.

The Chinese Government argues that European Union exports of “grain oriented electrical steel” are causing “substantial damage” and “material injury” to China’s industry.

China’s Ministry of Commerce announced that the action against the EU would be the strongest of a series of so-called anti-dumping measures, which will also affect Japanese and South Korean producers.

Most of the political argument in Britain has been about how China’s massive overproduction of steel from bankrupt state-owned and subsidised steel mills is flooding world markets.

The Opposition and unions accuse the Government of not doing enough to stand up to China, under its strategy of becoming China’s “closest ally in the West”.

Last Autumn the EU determined that China itself was dumping a wide range of steel products in Europe, including electrical steels.

The European Commission advocates higher punitive tariffs in cases such as this, but Britain has led the defence of the principle of lower duties levied in such cases.

Source: China Hits Steel Made In UK With 46% Levy

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15 thoughts on “China’s steel levy seals the evidence: Tories are enemies of British industry

  1. Stephen Mellor

    “How else do we view these events?”

    Let me count the ways….

    That they want business and their customers to have cheaper steel to the benefit of us all.

    That they view protectionism as the first step down the path to depression, and avoiding same is of benefit to us all.

    That they understand that a protected industry here leads to protected industries elsewhere, and they wish to protect our exporters, to the benefit of us all.

    That they understand that once people believe they can get a living by leeching off the state, everyone will want to, to the detriment of us all.

    Oh. Wait. That last has already happened.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      You may actually be ill, do you know that? Your ignorance of the facts is astonishing. For example:

      The US has already protected its steel industry by imposing a large levy on Chinese imports. China is now going the same way with its levy on UK steel. Our exporters are completely unprotected and will lose out terribly.

      As a result, steel prices in the UK are set to skyrocket once our ability to manufacture it is lost.

      What the Tories view as being a step to depression is neither here nor there. Their idea of economics is warped by their childish neoliberal “free-market” ideology (which has nothing to do with markets being free).

      The whole point of this exercise is to keep people in work, rather than on benefit – which is not “leeching off the state” as you deride it, but is in fact claiming a right that each individual has fully funded.

      For the benefit of other readers: Stephen Mellor is a Tory and his beliefs represent theirs. His comment proves the headline claim of the article – that Tories are the enemies of British industry.

      1. Stephen Mellor

        ¶1: You might try just one post without an insult.

        ¶2: So they’re being stupid too.

        ¶3: Rubbish. There’s a glut. And our future ability to make steel will have no difference on the world price.

        ¶4: See ¶1. If you have an argument, make it.

        ¶5: The whole point of this exercise is *not* to keep people in work–it’s to have them in the most productive work possible. Clearly, steel-making is not it.

        ¶6: Wrong again. And “guilt” by association is not an argument.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        1. So might you.
        2. See what I mean?
        3. A glut, and a low world price, won’t make a blind bit of difference when we’re at the mercy of foreign suppliers and can’t make any of our own.
        4. No need – rather than an argument, you expressed an opinion; so did I.
        5. If the point of this exercise is to have people in the most productive work possible, it is failing. If the steelworks go under, those workers will be unemployed. Any fool can see that – why won’t you?
        6. “Wrong again” is not an argument. Your words betray you.

      3. Mike Sivier Post author

        I’ve just trashed another comment from Mr Mellor, as it added nothing to the discussion.

  2. NMac

    They don’t mind supporting the state-subsidised Chinese steel industry, whose product is often of dubious quality, but they refuse point-blank to even temporarily subsidise our own steel industry.

  3. shawn

    Dear Mr. Mellor,
    I do not accept your over-simplified view of how international trade is undertaken by corporations, let alone governments. In the real world there are myriad ways of subsidizing one’s strategic industries. The Japanese once placed an additional levy on parking foreign-made cars on the highway or in car parks. Other ways can be as complex as passing regulations that specify rear lights have to be larger than ‘X’ inches, while letting your home producer know the stipulated size or choosing one that is not consistent with other country’s manufacturers’ models. You can subsidize the costs through subsidizing the cost of electricity, or through business start up schemes, deferring local taxes, by paying the training of apprentices, the list is endless. It is extremely hard to create, and maintain, a level playing field.
    The point here is that as soon as Adam Smith noted the workings of the ‘invisible hand’, it was no longer invisible. Thereafter, those that have the power and desire have sought to influence its direction.. This government has consistently done this for the financial sector and the City of London. The difference between the financial sector and the steel industry – for this government is that it does not have the desire to save the steel industry; and why? Because that would mean helping the ordinary, average working person, as opposed to the Tories’ wealthy patrons in the financial sector and City of London.
    Also consider that these massive industries cannot be brought into production as easy as increasing the supply of, say, bread or chocolate bars to meet an increase in demand. Producers do not have perfect knowledge of what demand will be in ‘X’ years time. To re-commence production in the steel industry is expensive and will take years before a steel joist has passed through a rolling mill. In fact once you’re out of this industry you’re, for all intents and purposes, out of it for good.
    The reality therefore is that those left standing will have, in effect, a near-monopoly position when setting the price of steel, and it’s not as if steel is specific to one product. So it might be cheaper to build a Royal Navy warship today, but it will be much more expensive in the future – that’s assuming they agree to sell us the steel.

    1. Stephen Mellor

      Thank you, Shawn, for your substantive reply.

      I believe your points fall into the following categories:
      1. You can’t actually create a level playing field
      2. The govt has intervened in the banks, and 2b, because they’re the govt’s friends
      3. It is difficult, if not impossible, to recreate an industry such as steel from scratch
      4. Therefore, a monopoly will be created, leading to high prices.

      Each has merit, but not enough, IMO.

      #1. You’re right. You can’t. But I think we are agreed (or you wouldn’t have spent half the post writing about it) that it’s a Good Thing. This is why huge amounts of effort post-war have been poured in to liberalising markets and encouraging free trade.

      This has been to the long-term benefit of us all, albeit at the cost of short-term disruption, to e.g. steel workers. (Who should definitely be helped.)

      #2. Yes they have, and I’d rather they hadn’t. Their argument would be that the alternative was to throw sand into the whole economy. Maybe. I’d still have let them fail, just as Iceland did. But you can’t reason by analogy–the industries are different.

      #2b may well be true. Doesn’t change the argument on its merits.

      #3. You’re right again. But we’ve lost a lot of industries in the past (shipbuilding for ones, cars, almost, for another, agriculture for sure.) It is a risk, as I suggested above, in case of collapse of the global economy (or war). If we really believe that to be the case, we should move post haste to N. Korea’s juche policy.

      I don’t believe it *is* the case. And more trade brings nations together making war less likely–an initial, and I think persuasive, argument for the creation of the Common Market. But yes, it’s a risk.

      #4. A worldwide monopoly is a very difficult thing to maintain. I can’t think of a single case that lasted very long: Rubber springs to mind (20yrs was it?). I can’t think of one today, though IBM and Microsoft had a try–and look what happened to them.

      Of the four, #3 is the best argument, IMO. But then we have the difficulty of deciding just what is “strategic.” France, for instance, blocked the sale of Danone on the basis of the strategic nature of–wait for it–yogurt. I don’t buy that argument; I don’t buy it for steel.

      I look forward to your reply.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        I can see enormous holes in your arguments – but you have addressed this to shawn, so I’ll keep my tinder dry for now.

  4. mohandeer

    The Tories have so far done everything possible to ensure that British Industry, Manufacturing, farming, energy production, hospitals, schools, libraries,housing, utilities and anything else that is not theirs or is not nailed down is sold off and the British workers are sold out. Everyone from miners to teachers and nurses and GP’s will be sold down the river until there is nothing left that is British unless we stop the Tories now. Sooner rather than later is not an option because there will be nothing left later.
    Have I missed anything or is there just too much to list?

  5. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl)

    We do not always live in the present and should consider the future for this country. Shutting down such an industry could and probably would have disastrous effects on the economy as we would have to support, even in a poor way, those people put out of work and the thousands of smaller businesses that the steel works also support.

    Look what happened in the Beeching area, far too many railway lines were closed and eventually built over making restructuring impossible. If we had many of those lines available today the general public would again be benefiting from them.

    The problem with the Conservative party is that, unless a business is profitable it must be closed down instead of finding a way to improve its efficiency for the future. Once an empire like our steel industry is allowed to fail it will never again be possible to replace it as most of the structural work was done in the era of slavery.

    What is necessary is to safeguard our quality personnel and our quality output which many other countries appreciate as they do not all abide by the fact that price is indicative of quality.

Comments are closed.