‘Zombie’ companies in China are selling goods lower than it costs to produce them are a threat to jobs in the UK and the rest of Europe warned Unite assistant general secretary, Tony Burke, as he called on European trade unions to oppose the granting of market economy status to China.
Speaking at the IndustriALL Europe congress in Madrid today (Wednesday 8 June), Tony Burke warned that granting market economy status to China would open the ‘floodgates’ to a ‘tsunami’ of cheap Chinese steel and be disastrous for workers in manufacturing in the UK and across Europe.
Calling on Europe’s manufacturing unions to back Unite’s opposition to China’s market economy status, Tony Burke said: “We do this, not to attack Chinese workers and their future, but because there is a very clear danger that granting market economy status to China will have a massive impact on manufacturing in the UK and rest of Europe.
“’Zombie’ companies in China are producing goods lower that it costs to produce them with no end in sight to this over production and dumping. This is most acute in the steel industry where cheap Chinese steel has had a significant impact on the UK steel industry and has created job losses and significant uncertainty.”
Pointing out that the steel industry wasn’t the only sector being hit by cheap Chinese imports, he added: “In the tyre industry we have seen cheap Chinese truck tyres dumped on the UK market and sold at £300 less than the premium EU manufactured tyres.
“Our papermaking industry is now subject to cheap imports of paper and there are grave concerns as to the effect that market economy status will have on the automotive parts sector and other areas such as ceramics.
Urging European unions to join the growing voices of opposition, Tony Burke concluded: “It is not just Unite in the UK which is opposed to market economy status for China. The British TUC has expressed its opposition, the European TUC, unions in America and Canada, as well as the European parliament which recently voted against market economy status for China.
“A decision to grant market economy status to China would be disastrous for workers in the UK and Europe.”
Over the coming months the European Union is due to decide whether to grant market economy status to China. The move has been triggered by the fact provisions written into China’s protocol, when it acceded to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) 15 years ago, kick in on 11 December 2016.
Currently China is not considered a market economy in EU anti-dumping proceedings, meaning the EU uses data from another market economy to calculate anti-dumping duties when it imposes fines on China.
If China is granted market-economy status it would make it more difficult to impose steep tariffs on Chinese goods.
IndustriALL Global Union represents 50 million workers in 140 countries in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors and is a force in global solidarity taking up the fight for better working conditions and trade union rights around the world.
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.