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House of Commons Hansard
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US Tariffs: Steel and Aluminium
17 May 2018
Volume 641
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1. What recent discussions he has had with his international counterparts on US tariffs on steel and aluminium. [905353]

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The Prime Minister and I continue to raise our concerns with President Trump and his Administration about the potentially damaging impact of tariffs on our steel and aluminium industries.  We are working closely with the US and our EU partners to secure a permanent EU exemption to these tariffs.

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Steel tariff exemptions are vital for Tata Steel. Many of my constituents work at Tata in Port Talbot in the next constituency along from mine. The exemption is welcome, but there are concerns about the US placing quotas on steel imports, which will have a major impact on the exports going not just from Britain but from Europe. How does the Secretary of State see himself protecting our export trade once we leave the European Union and do not have its negotiating power behind us?

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When it comes to protection post EU, we will have our own trade remedies measures. But of course the hon. Lady and her Labour colleagues voted against our being able to establish those when the legislation came to the House.

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What is the Secretary of State doing with our partners to ensure that we do not suffer from diversionary dumping of steel as a result of what the US is doing?

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We want to see a permanent exemption so that we do not get into that position in the first place, but we have made it clear that we would operate with our European partners to ensure that we took any measures necessary that were proportionate and within international trade law to ensure that the situation that the hon. Gentleman describes would not happen.

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The US President seems intent on undermining the World Trade Organisation’s multilateral rules-based system. He is delaying the settlement of disputes by vetoing the appointment of judges to the appellate body and is using national security as a cover, in this case, for naked protectionism against foreign steel and aluminium. Does the Secretary of State still think that Donald Trump is a man we can do business with?

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We do business with the United States Administration because the United States is our closest strategic partner. Where we disagree on issues such as steel, we make our voice very clear. We do not support the use of section 232 as a mechanism for dealing with the overproduction of steel. That actually hits the United States’ allies and not the designed target, which was China. Citing national security, particularly in Britain’s case, makes no sense at all given that some of the steel that we send to the United States goes into its military programmes.