Brexit Britain trying to live up to free trade promises

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Global Trade

In one of its first tests as a free trading global economy after Brexit, Britain achieved a middling mark this past week.

Brexit

hakinmhan/Adobe Stock

Trade minister Liz Truss accepted its independent, newly established Trade Remedies Authority recommendation to scrap some quotas on imports that had been carried over from the European Union in 2019 prior to Brexit.

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Brexit Britain scrap import quotas

The rules set quotas on some 19 steels whereby a 25% anti dumping tariff is applied if imports exceed pre set quarterly quotas.

Detail have been sparse, however, on what is included and what isn’t.

However, a UK government website lists what remains under the quota and what is to be revoked.

The list includes extensions for: non-alloy and other alloy hot rolled sheets and strips; non-alloy and other cold rolled sheets; metallic coated sheets; organic coated sheets; and tin mill products.

Those revoked are broadly on the grounds that the product isn’t made in the U.K., anyway. So, putting a quota on it was senseless. The previous rules were aligned more with wider European production capabilities, not specifically the U.K.

Quota extensions for steel

What isn’t clear is quite why the trade minister has temporarily extended the quota on a further five of the 19 steel products for another year.

Ostensibly, the decision gives the industry time to appeal the TRA decision (which you can be sure it will). However, they have already lobbied hard to get the quotas extended in line with the E.U.’s recent three-year extension. As such, this one-year extension appears a lot like appeasement to the industry lobby.

Still, the fact the government has revoked around half of the products from quotas is a good development for consumers. The publication of the lists allows those consumers who had been holding off from importing more widely on the basis of risking the 25% penalty to now ease supply chain shortages by widening the pool of suppliers to a highly constrained U.K. market.

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Comment (1)

  1. Lac Dirk says:

    So subsidised steel gets into UK products. What does that do to the potential to export British products using any steel?
    It means more red tape and more checks. More costs, in other words, even for companies not using subsidised Chinese steel.

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