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Unite warns against ‘tit for tat’ trade wars as Trump ...

Unite warns against ‘tit for tat’ trade wars as Trump slaps tariffs on UK steel

31 May 2018

The UK government risks being nothing more than bystander as the prospect of a global trade war threatens jobs, the UK’s largest union, Unite said today (Thursday 31 May), as the Trump administration ended an exemption from job destroying tariffs on UK and European steel.

Calling for a global solution to a global problem, Unite warned that a trade war over steel and aluminium must not escalate into ‘tit for tat’ or encompass the car industry.

Commenting Unite national officer for steel Tony Brady said: “US steel tariffs are a blunt short sighted instrument that will do nothing to address the underlying problem of global over capacity and the secondary dumping of steel from countries, such as China and Indonesia.

“Those countries that have been dumping steel and aluminium are the villains, not countries, such as the UK or Canada which play by the rules. 

“The fact the UK government has failed to secure any prospect of an exemption for UK steel from the US administration should be an eye opener for those who pin their hopes on the ‘special relationship’ delivering a boost for British industry in a post-Brexit world.

“This abject failure shows why we need to remain in a customs union. The European Union remains the only trading bloc with the power to secure a negotiated full and ongoing exemption and is the only one not to have capitulated to the Trump administration.

“A ‘tit for tat’ trade war is in no one’s interest. Steel tariffs will only serve to harm manufacturing and steel making communities either side of the Atlantic and could escalate into other sectors such as automotive where the Trump administration has launched an investigation into car, truck and component imports.

“While politically motivated, a US-inspired tariff war in the automotive sector would disrupt the US-UK trading relationship and jeopardise decent well paid manufacturing jobs. 

“The UK government cannot continue to be bystander as the threat of a job destroying trade war increases. Unite is in regular dialogue with our sister union United Steelworkers in the US and Canada through Workers Uniting and steel unions in Europe via industriALL. 

“We recognise that the global problem needs a global solution. UK ministers must engage fully with the European Union and play a leading role in securing a negotiated solution to the global overcapacity of steel before it escalates into a wider trade war.”

ENDS

For further information please contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065 or Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869. 

Twitter: @unitetheunion
Facebook: unitetheunion1 

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.