The main imports of steel come from the EU

In January, the last month for official figures, the UK imported £202m of steel from the rest of the EU and only £80m from the Rest of the world. The way EU energy, regulatory and procurement policies are enforced in the UK versus the continent allow much more steel to be produced in the rest of the EU than here. This should be one of the prime issues.
As the government looks for a buyer with Tata it should also evaluate Tata’s closure costs so a buyer can have a realistic negotiation over a dowry for the plants.

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84 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Indeed hopefully with hugely lower energy costs and an exit from the EU a buyer can be found for the parts of it that could still be run profitably. The government should certainly not buy it as they have shown over and over again they cannot run anything efficiently.

    I see that the national living wage is being described as a 10% wage increase for some low paid. Actually only 3% as nearly 7% goes back to the government in tax and reduced benefits. It also leaves companies with £1bn PA less to invest in growing their businesses and creating new jobs. Another huge own goal by the totally misguided Osborne but apparently one of which “he is perhaps most proud”.

    How can anyone be so daft and innumerate?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 1, 2016 at 7:24 am | Permalink

      Is Osborne not equally proud of ratting on his IHT promise? Or perhaps his muggings of private landlords and thus tenants, his endless attacks on private pensions, his absurdly high stamp duty rates that prevent people moving, his counterproductive attacks on Nondom, his doubling of insurance tax, CGT on non real gains at 28% and all the rest of his fiscal lunacy.

      Or perhaps he is proud of having doubled the national debt, running such a huge deficit, having some of the most expensive energy in the EU & the World, his record breaking trade deficit or of having doubled the size of the tax code with his absurd fiscal complexity.

      He must go as soon as possible, he is profoundly misguided in almost everything he does.

  2. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    That’ll be the huge amount coming via Spain and of China origin I expect. Unions have mentioned it along with the bad procurement strategy in UK. Simply ask David T C Davis.

  3. Ian Wragg
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Closing down all heavy industry is the unwritten government policy. Andrea Leadsom let the cat out of the bag recently.
    We are to rely on financial services which worked so well in 2008.
    You couldn’t make it up.

  4. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    David T C Davies on the EU Steel subject: (name spelt wrong above)

    http://www.david-davies.org.uk/news/tata-climate-change-hysteria-and-eu-inertia-contribute-steel-crisis

    • Richard1
      Posted April 1, 2016 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

      It would be interesting to see financials for the threatened steel business adjusting for the effect of green crap – I.e. Pro forma assuming energy purchased at the lowest cost markets (as opposed to govt policy) allow. Unfortunately I suspect it won’t be enough to render the business viable given global over capacity.

  5. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Many people were quite surprised learning TATA Steel was in fact an Indian company. ArcelorMittal is another huge Indian player. Both are dominant in the EU and have assets all over the world.

    I do not thoroughly understand yet why these companies only a few years ago bought failing assets at firesale prices across Europe and yes Russia only to close them down two minutes later. How could they possibly believe those assets had a future given they knew which way the wind was blowing in world steel overproduction?

    So , as you say JR, a potential buyer would need a “realistic negotiation over a dowry”. Hmm. The term “dowry” would seem to fit with ancient Indian culture. I suggest no dowry whatsoever under any circumstances now and forever more in the steel industry. Let TATA get a financially painful divorce from its steel assets.

    Reply I was saying Tata should provide some money with the assets and liabilities to the new owner!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 1, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      Hopefully is will not be a repeat of the situation where BMW endowed British Leyland which ended up as a total disgrace.

    • acorn
      Posted April 1, 2016 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      Last week, the Scottish government brokered a deal by which two of Tata Steel’s plate processing plants were sold to Liberty Steel.

      The Scottish government intervened and used a “back-to-back sales agreement”. The Tata Clydebridge and Dalzell plants in Scotland were purchased and immediately sold on to Liberty Steel. This most likely done to sterilize the purchase by Liberty Steel, and leave some of the stinky bits with the Scottish government and, ultimately, with Mr Osborne.

      Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of “doing everything we can”

      • acorn
        Posted April 1, 2016 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

        This is my suggestion for the “blood curdling quote of 2016” competition.

        “This is a Conservative government that is on your side.”

      • Chris
        Posted April 1, 2016 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

        I actually now feel physically sick when I see either Cameron or Osborne saying that they are “doing everything we can”.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 2, 2016 at 11:12 am | Permalink

        So the Scottish government effectively acted as an intermediary for the deal, but on a form of negative commission. That’s quite credible.

    • majorfrustration
      Posted April 1, 2016 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Not sure that our Politicians and Civil Servants are quite up to being involved with and sell off / rationalisation. This problem has been coming down the track for three/four years and for PWC to be called in now is shutting the stable door – What I can envisage is that the good bits will be sold off and pension fund liabilities will be picked up by the tax payer. Same old same old. Cynically one could be forgiven for thinking – even if we bailed them out would the workers vote for the Tory party.

  6. Posted April 1, 2016 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Strange how the Government ensures that China is saddled with the blame for the problems in the Steel industry rather than the EU and the BBC and other media outlets, for some strange reason, choose not to investigate the source of the problem further.

    Thanks to our host we now know where the real problem lies. What makes it possible to export steel to the UK from the rest of the EU rather than make it here ?

    Could it be inefficient UK production ? No, we are told the UK plants have had massive investment.

    Is it higher taxes on business ? No, were constantly being told that the UK is one of the best places to do business in the EU.

    What about uncompetitive energy costs ? Here may lay the answer which can originally be laid at Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband’s door when the latter was energy secretary. But let’s not forget that CMD and Osbourne have had six years to mitigate that problem and have done nothing about it. They can’t blame their failure on Nick Clegg and the now-ennobled coalition LibDem energy and climate change secretary who we know did so much damage in that job.

    On the basis of your figures, even if the UK government subsidised the UK steel industry to the tune of £140m pa on a temporary basis, ( being 50% of the cost of the steel that would otherwise be imported), I suspect that this would cost less that the bill for closure, unemployment benefit, extra NHS costs etc in the long term.

    Taking Port Talbot alone : The plant employs 3,500 people directly and let’s assume that the plant sustains at least the same again in ancillary jobs ( it’s probably a lot more ), that would only work out at £10,000 per full term employee per year. A very small price to pay to maintain such a strategically important industry for a few years. Eventually much of the subsidy could probably be recovered by selling the business when the market improves.

    Of course the Government would have to do much more than this, after all, they had plenty of notice of the problem : arguably it should have instituted rescue measures last year when it allowed Redcar to be closed. If they had, we might not be facing the potential loss of our entire steel industry now.

    Energy costs should have been cut down to, at most, no more than the average charged in Germany and other EU steel producers. Business rates could have been suspended plus whatever other measures that would have helped reduce costs. A temporary suspension of Employer’s NI contributions, for example.

    Unfortunately recent statements from the Business Secretary and CMD are not looking too helpful, are they ?

    Are they really prepared to see the whole UK steel industry disappear rather than face having to get into an argument over subsidies with Brussels in the run up to the referendum ? Surely Not ?

    Closure of the UK steel industry simply cannot be allowed to happen.

  7. Lifelogicw
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Frazer Nelson in the Telegraph today suggests (probably quite correctly) that Osborne’s living wage will cost about 60,000 jobs. So perhaps the 1000 steel jobs are just a drop in the ocean?

    Yet Osborne apparently is “most proud” of this!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 1, 2016 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      A Prof. at Brunel University thinks job losses due to this absurd new national minimum wage could be as high as 600 million. Osborne is the clear enemy of the low paid, jobs, his record trade deficit and the U.K. Economy in general. The sooner he goes the better for all.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 1, 2016 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        In some areas of the country his National Wage will affect nearly half of the working population. I am reminded of Ted Heath being ask if the right hon gentleman had taken leave of his senses. Where are the Mps asking this of Osborne?

        It will also provide a large further draw to to low skill immigration no if no but about it.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 1, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        600 thousand sorry!

        • Bazman
          Posted April 2, 2016 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

          When this large number of jobs does not materialise as it did not when NMW was introduced will we see any of your posts recognising this? No you will be silent claim that 600k jobs where not produced saying this proves your point or other such nonsense.
          Low paid jobs are of no use to anyone except the employer as they do not pay enough tax to fund anything as you point out in past posts.
          The poor should compete in a race to work for the least? Tell us the economics of that. Where will these poverty wage earners live for a start? Will the UK population compete with immigrants working for a pound an hour and should they? Clutch, brain gear please.

      • Know-dice
        Posted April 1, 2016 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        600 million ?

        Explain please…

      • Bazman
        Posted April 1, 2016 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

        Maybe that pound shop job being done by the now sacked feckless steel worker should be paid less huh! I mean it was his fault for having two children and not saving up for them when working. Probably going on holiday and down the pub one suspects too expecting us all to pay if he looses his easy hire and fire job without minimum wage in a highly subsidised and competitive industry such as steel in the world market.
        He probably never thought to ask for a pay cut to remain competitive with the Chinese and Russia anyway and here we are.

        • eeyore
          Posted April 1, 2016 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

          You want to be careful with irony in print, Bazman. People who read this blog might take you at your word. Believe it or not, some don’t think the world owes them a living. Some even doubt they have a right to other people’s money.

        • David Price
          Posted April 2, 2016 at 2:13 am | Permalink

          Or he never thought buying the imported car, TV, vegetables, fish, washing machine rather than local products would eventually cost him his job and the loss of an entire industry.

          Demanding higher and higher wages to then buy more of these imports didn’t help either but why should he have worried, it’s only the bosses and shareholders that lose when realised risks push companies to the wall.

          • Bazman
            Posted April 2, 2016 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

            It’s only the bosses and shareholders that lose when realised risks push companies to the wall?
            That will be banking and the many other companies who have gone bust owing millions to creditors and workers as the bosses somehow manage to struggle through with having to take millions in compensation often tax free. Whilst the workforce should have checked where the products and services they bought should come from like you did and still do? Yeah. It will be.
            Victim blaming nonsense that we have come to expect from dingbat right as long as it does not effect them.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 1, 2016 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      I don’t see so many job losses, I see reduced hours from 40 or 37.5 to 35, more like Europe so we fit in better.
      I see more part-time job share situations.
      I see more Easter as well as Christmas close downs and maybe closures in August to try to manage better this awful four week dead period from the Monday before Easter right through the new School holidays that start next Monday to mid-April.
      I also worry if the Minimum wage is rising by 6% every year for the next four years will the state pension rise by the same amount as I’m pretty sure pay differentials will have to catch up over the next year pushing up the price of everything.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 1, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        Job losses are inevitable. Anyone whose labour is worth less that the new minimum is legally barred from working unless the employer is prepared to carry the loss. The companies that do will loose out to those that do not.

        • Bazman
          Posted April 2, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

          No problem paying the bosses more have they often for less work and worse results.
          You could find desperate people in some poor workless areas to work for a tenner a day often doing skilled work, so is anyone paying more than this in these areas carrying a loss as you claim?
          You are arguing that their can be no exploitation and all pay just self levels for the benefit of all.
          Does property rent work in this free market floating way like you say?

    • Bazman
      Posted April 1, 2016 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      We have had this scaremongering when the minimum wage was introduced and evidence showed that jobs where actually created. Shouty nonsense again from you.
      So what do you propose to do about low wages being paid often by highly profitable companies and subsidised by the state via tax credits and housing benefits as they are not even on a liveable wage as Osborne calls his minimum wage.
      How is an employee to get a wage rise when the company can just sack him at will for example asking for a pay rise in your easy hire and fire no rights fantasy world? You are dead against any sort of collective pay bargaining so should everyone just refuse to be employed at a rate they feel is to low? They actually have that choice? Put your brain into gear for once and when it is in gear tell us how massive subsidy to landlords and the housing market does not drag the economy much more than a few quid for over 25 year olds and how being 24 makes rent and living cheaper than for 25 year old? short time ago you are telling us about how pointless to the state low paid job are. Which is it?

      • Bazman
        Posted April 2, 2016 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

        Where is your reply to this lielogic?

  8. alan jutson
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    But was this steel actually made in the EU, or just shipped through the EU from China (or elsewhere) with someone taking a financial commission en route.

    Rather like imported food, which can have a UK label if it is simply packaged here.

    Reply Made in the EU Germany makes 43 m tonnes a year

    • alan jutson
      Posted April 1, 2016 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      Reply-Reply

      If this steel has been made in Germany then we should seriously look at how they can do it at a competitive price and we cannot.

      The EU surely has to allow a level playing field for all within it, otherwise what is the point in belonging to it, as we then have the worst of BOTH Worlds.

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 1, 2016 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

        I agree with Alan, how on earth can German steel production be profitable but not the UK plants?

        Could the steel workers pension scheme buy the company for buttons and become like a cooperative/John Lewis type situation and the workers, steel pensioners and unions all own their own business.

    • Dennis
      Posted April 3, 2016 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply – What about the rest? Is that all from China? Your reply is not sufficient.

  9. agricola
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    We could suggest to the Chinese that they invest in our steel plants. It would ensure their existence and give them a secure foot in the European market. Worth considering.

    I can only assume that the UK imports steel because,
    1. It is cheaper.
    2. We do not make the specific product in the UK.
    3. The quality level is only available from overseas sources.
    In the 80s/90s this was true of Cold Drawn Seamless steel tube (CDS).
    In the UK there was an upper limit to the diameter that the UK could make so you went to Germany or for the very best quality, Japan. Just an example of why we import steel. Like food it is a wide ranging product.

    The real answer to our balance of payments problem/deficit is to manufacture increasing volumes of high added value product for export. Grafine is a starter industry we should be going flat out to exploit. However taking advantage of our scientific expertise is not something we are much good at. History is full of the wrecks of exploitation failures. There is really not much point in persisting with basic product which every emerging nation aspires to.. Sad to say the steel mills of South Wales fall into this latter category.

  10. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 8:25 am | Permalink
  11. Iain Moore
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    I agree that the Government shouldn’t rush to help TATA unload its problem on the British Tax Payer by rushing to offer state support. In this we need to play hard ball and screw every last pound out of them. But having done that , we cannot just look round for a buyer while leaving the uneconomic cost structures our virtue signalling Government has loaded on our heavy industry, for no buyer in their right mind will step forward while we have a Government trying to bankrupt them with ridiculously high energy prices, ridiculously high business rates, and a Chancellor of the Exchequer who seems to be acting like a fifth column and sabotaging any moves to stop the Chinese dumping steel on our market.

    • Robert Christopher
      Posted April 2, 2016 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      That does mean someone here would need to understand the situation both short term and long term, have Britain’s best interests at heart and have influence, if not power to head negotiations in the right direction. There are very few with two out of the four, even fewer with three, and none with all four.

      It does look like the Cabinet didn’t know we had a steel industry.

  12. Edward M
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    A combination of EU and UK government policies have taken us to the point of closing down our steel plants. Yet Mr Cameron says we need to stay in the EU in order to sell our steel ! My response to Cameron is unprintable.
    (From what I gather our steel industry is efficient and high quality – and it is of strategic importance to produce specialist steels for critical applications).
    We need to vote Leave not just to get out of the EU but to send a strong message to government that it must act in the British interest – the resignation of Remainers would be a good start.

  13. Antisthenes
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    This all appears very contradictory. The rest of the EU steel makers don’t seem to be making the losses Tata is yet the same EU environment exists. If Chinese steel is the cheapest why are we not buying all from them and none from the rest of the EU. Are the other steel makers cheating on energy costs and EU regulations or more efficient or have domestic policies less harmful than the UK imposes.

    The only knowledge I have on that is that German unions cooperate with capitalists rather than fight them like they do in the UK. They believe putting the health of a company first automatically looks after the well being of their members. I picked that knowledge up 50 years ago it may have changed since but I suspect not.

    There is more to this than meets the eye I suspect because of political expediency it makes tackling the problem as it should be difficult. So lets blame scapegoats the EU and the Chinese. Certainly neither help the situation and without both especially the EU things could be considerably improved. However some soul searching is needed and the question must be asked is there a lot more that could be done domestically .

    Perhaps studying Germany and it’s business methods then emulating them could make us more productive. We do to my mind often look very amateurish in that area. Only when foreigners open business here and operate them do our businesses practices improve. We have people like the Japanese to thank because without them we would still be a land of British Leylands. (words left out ed)The right owners could turn it around

    Reply Germany benefits from much lower industrial energy prices thanks to subsidies the EU allows them to pay. Germany also buys more of her own manufactures and manages to do so despite EU procurement rules

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 2, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      Germany is in the euro, in Schengen, in Eurocorps, in fact in every eurofederalist thing that the UK has so far chosen to eschew. Therefore the German government and civil service may not feel the same psychological need to over-compensate in other areas in order to burnish their credentials as “good Europeans”.

  14. oldtimer
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    You make a good point. The government also faces costs of closure. If a transition to a new owner with a feasible business plan is possible then the government should be ready, willing and able to plunder it’s over generous aid budget along side a contribution from Tata. Charity begins at home.

  15. Paul Cohen
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Once again we see a situation where the dice are loaded against us, not helped by our adherance to the rules where others flout them to our disadvantage. Are we really so unworldly and savvyless that this sort of situation occurs so often?

    I think the prospect of a “Dowry” may be somewhat optimistic, and that TATA will simply go the administration route.

    The possibility of running a profitable steel making industry in the UK is probably financially hopeless given the present base price and overproduction. Nevertheless there is a strategic necessity too, Government sponsered, with perhaps more specialised products that would keep us in the game to build on some time in the future?

    Reply A flourishing Group of companies cannot easily walk away from all the environmental, pension and employee obligations it has taken on when producing from plants it wishes to close. It usually has to negotiate its way out of them.

    • ian wragg
      Posted April 1, 2016 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      But if TATA do walk away which is quite possible, what are you going to do about it.
      It will be left for the British taxpayer to pick up the tab. Just look at what happened to British Leyland.

  16. stred
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    We need to offer the same terms and conditions to our manufacturers as the Germans and not add extra taxes and green charges. Raise tariffs to prevent Chinese dumping and stop other EU countries subsidising steelworks unless we are allowed to do the same. Then there is no reason why our steelworks can not survive.

  17. bigneil
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    The deliberately organised destruction of the UK is under way. Steel going. Coal mining gone, yet other countries carry on. Power stations being closed down here yet more and more people ( who will all want power) arriving daily with their hands out for their taxpayer funded housing, benefits, NHS and schooling for their massive brood. Fishing industries being wiped out, while the rest of the world sails around freely, ignoring the so-called “rules” of the EU. .(Words re DC left out ed) Just like Bliar, he is looking after himself and his rich buddies. He should be ashamed of himself, clearly he doesn’t give a damn.

    • alan jutson
      Posted April 1, 2016 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      bigneil

      No excuse, but perhaps Cameron and Osbourne are just commercially ignorant of what goes on in the business world.

      Perhaps they also have a strange idea about human nature.

      Certainly its seems as though they are completely out of touch with reality as most of us know it.

  18. Mark
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    You are quite right about steel imports – and less anyone thinks one month’s statistics are not a reliable guide, readers might care to look at the data from the International Steel Statistics Bureau which has a couple of charts on its home page – one showing global international steel trade by trading bloc, and another focussing on UK steel imports by origin since 2008 (page down to view)

    http://www.issb.co.uk/

    I was somewhat alarmed by the tone of this just published Parliamentary briefing paper:

    http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-7317/CBP-7317.pdf

    which seems to imply that because primary steel manufacture turnover is only a little over £2bn in the UK it can safely be sacrificed as being economically unimportant. There appears to be no consideration of the implications for the industries downstream in the supply chain, including big export earners such as vehicle manufacture. As supply chains elongate, such industries have less and less reason to remain in the UK, which would lead to an even worse balance of payments position. Moreover, in reducing the value of UK businesses they can’t even be sold off at a decent price to pay for our other deficits. The value of our steel industry appears already to be negative, so if it were not already in foreign hands, selling it off would actually increase our deficit.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 1, 2016 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      I was going to point out that briefing paper, which came up on google when I was trying to find out how UK steel consumption compares to production.

      I have to say that I’m now left completely confused about the basic statistics.

      As you say that report says that in 2014 the steel industry contributed just £2.2 billion to GDP, whereas in the video here:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/04/01/tata-steel-sajid-javid-to-tell-port-talbot-workers-government-on/

      it puts the UK steel industry’s contribution to the economy at £9.5 billion.

      That makes more sense since the report puts steel exports in 2014 at £6.0 billion and imports at £5.9 billion, and although it would not be impossible for imports and exports to be nearly matched in value, and each of them nearly three times more valuable than the domestic production, it seems unlikely.

      Of course none of that takes into account form and quality and price.

      But then again a chart provided by Open Europe:

      http://openeurope.org.uk/today/blog/would-the-uks-steel-industry-be-better-off-outside-the-eu/

      gives very different figures for the contribution of the UK steel industry to the balance of payments, with a £2.8 billion surplus in 2014.

  19. forthurst
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    “The way EU energy, regulatory and procurement policies are enforced in the UK versus the continent allow much more steel to be produced in the rest of the EU than here. This should be one of the prime issues.”

    “One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. ” Dr Ottmar Edenhofer, “We redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy,”

    “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” [Ms Figueres] said in anticipation of last year’s Paris climate summit. “This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history.” The plan is to allow Third World countries to emit as much carbon dioxide as they wish — because, as Edenhofer said, “in order to get rich one has to burn coal, oil or gas” — while at the same time restricting emissions in advanced nations. This will, of course, choke economic growth in developed nations.”
    Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change,

    Investors Business Daily – Another Climate Alarmist Admits Real Motive Behind Warming Scare

    Yes our economy is being choked deliberately by our politicians who are now shedding crocodile tears over the destruction they have successfully wrought by complying with those who are engaged in international economic terrorism under the cloak of the UN, further underwritten by the………. Brussels regime.

  20. Lifelogic
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I suppose Osborne is proud of his absurd & complex sugar tax too, (A tax that will cost at least twice as much to run as it will raise and with thus lower overall UK living standards with no benefit at all).

    Osborne is a menace to the UK economy. What a dreadful choice between Osborne or even worse John McDonnell. Let us hope we can get some sensible Tories in charge after BREXIT without the party falling apart.

    The national living wage is “absolutely the right thing to do” – according to Chris Grayling just now. Well perhaps it is, but only if you want to destroy jobs, competitivity, damage GDP and prevent (by statute) lots of low paid people (form 60,000 to 600,000) from ever working. Yet Chris Grayling is allegedly on the sensible wing of the Tories! It is all rather depressing.

    • Bob
      Posted April 1, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      @lifelogic
      That’s why I switched to ukip, the Tories (with a few notable exceptions such as our erudite host) have become the SJW’s of Westminster, filling the vacuum left by the Lib Dems.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 1, 2016 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

        SJW – Social justice warriors I assume – you learn something new every day.

        The electorate rightly destroy the wrong on every issue Libdems only to get Osborne & Cameron’s idiotic LibDem policies.

    • Bazman
      Posted April 1, 2016 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      How absurd is tobacco tax and does that cost more to administer than it brings in?
      Dead beat low wage job are good? How much do they cost the economy?

      • Anonymous
        Posted April 1, 2016 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

        “Dead beat low wage job are good? How much do they cost the economy?”

        Shed loads. The cost of housing, schooling, hospitalling, doctoring, policing, refuse-ing, ever single migrant who comes here to do one of those jobs without being able to pay enough tax back into the system.

        • Bazman
          Posted April 2, 2016 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

          Sack em’ all in that case then and ask why if a company is a liability to this country they are allowed to operate here shouty right whiners?

          • Anonymous
            Posted April 2, 2016 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

            I would answer if I could understand your ungrammatical response.

          • Bazman
            Posted April 3, 2016 at 10:48 am | Permalink

            Do you stopped understanding when you do not like the question?
            If a company is a liability to this country as in it takes from the economy more than it puts in, then should it be allowed to operate here in a parasitical way? It may well be heresy to the right, to suggest this, and you may well deny this possibility, but unfortunately can be true.

  21. ian
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Its not your steel or company and Tata can do what it likes, after having the highest climate change levy in the world put on them highest rates and energy costs I would be going as well, as far as liability go they save it by taking it over in the first place and you have cause them to sell or shut down, I think all liability are yours, only a lunatic would take on heavy industries in this country and even if they did they would not last long like Tata and as for the levy credits, you can get 70 to 90% off less where and free rates.

    Europe a much better place for steel well anywhere really.
    Tata just the start of oversea companies shutting down heavy industries or what left.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 1, 2016 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      How can the Germans do this Ian? They surely have the same climate change levy as we do yet produce double the steel and even sell lots to us?

      • matthu
        Posted April 1, 2016 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

        UK has gold-plated the climate change levies.

      • David Price
        Posted April 2, 2016 at 2:19 am | Permalink

        Carbon offsets and the emissions trading scheme perhaps?

  22. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Off topic;
    For my sins yesterday, I watched BBC TV coverage of some of the interaction between the SNP and the Scottish Labour Party leaders in the Holyrood Parliament.
    Now I know why the SNP in Westminster have a particular look on their faces whenever they ask questions of Mr Cameron. Their questions and retorts in Holyrood are accompanied by the whole of the SNP and Scots Labour Party members each cocking their heads gently to the side and smiling smarmily. Na-nana-naa-nah. It’s quite an entertainment to watch. Better with the sound turned off as their words are inconsequential

  23. ian
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Like I said a while back there will be 7 to 9 thousand steel workers left in 5 years time but they will be for fabrication not making steel, if I say 14 500 left that’s a 50% reduction you can not tell the real number because they include office staff as well to beef up the numbers.

  24. Bob
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    I know it’s April 1st, but this is just not appropriate.
    http://news.sky.com/story/1671109/china-hits-steel-made-in-uk-with-46-percent-levy

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 2, 2016 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      I was always taught that April Fools’ were not allowed after noon.

      • Bob
        Posted April 2, 2016 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

        @Denis Cooper
        Well if that’s correct, perhaps they weren’t joking!

  25. Roy Grainger
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    The Climate Change Act, carbon pricing, and expensive renewable energy targets had wide cross-party support from LibLabCon in order to penalise large CO2 “polluters”. Hard to see why they are now moaning when for once a policy worked perfectly. Sajid Javid wants to stay in the EU (now) so he’s the perfect man to explain to the steelworkers the EU limits on state aid and the inability to stop cheap imports from the rest of the EU – hard to have much sympathy for him.

  26. behindthefrogs
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Why are procurement. energy and other EU policies implemented in the UK differently to in other countries. Surely this is down to your government! This supports the view that the Tory government is at least partially responsible for the current steel crisis. The sooner the EU takes control of these issues rather than leaving them to national governments, the better. This is is a strong argument for staying in rather than leaving theEU

    Reply There is no evidence that the EU ever helps UK industry or worries about UK jobs.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 1, 2016 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      You are right – There is indeed no evidence that the EU ever helps UK industry or worries about UK jobs.

      But then again there is also overwhelming evidence that Osborne (with his absurd minimum wage laws, over taxation of everything, his green crap, his over complex taxation and his bonkers policies all over the place) will destroy somewhere between 100,000 and 1000,000 jobs.

      We need to get out of the EU and replace lefty loon Osborne as soon as possible.

  27. BOF
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I attended the packed GO (Grassroots Out) meeting in Newport on Tuesday. David R T Davies was there and spoke very well indeed. The mood of the people there was one of great concern for the steel industry and now that it is known that Britain led the argument not to impose high tariffs on dumped Chinese steel imports I would think that CMD & Co can write off any chance of support for the Remain camp from South Wales, or the rest of Wales for that matter.

  28. Posted April 1, 2016 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Great information JR. This now appears on our news page with a graph we created and with attribution to you of course.

    It’s just below the shocking news overnight about the UK’s Internet speeds being halved if we leave, courtesy of the EU Commission…. (http://www.facts4eu.org/news.htm)

    Reply Glad you liked it – it is an important part of the background

    • Bazman
      Posted April 2, 2016 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      Where is this story of the EU slowing down internet speeds on your secretly funded site? How is this going to be possible?

    • Ken Moore
      Posted April 2, 2016 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps your news page could highlight that the 36 FTSE whose bosses wrote to The Times opposing Brexit, spent EUR 21m lobbying the EU, and get EUR 120m in EU grants..

  29. Margaret
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    The government should see this Tata crisis as an opportunity to invest and make a success of the steel industry and build our great GB into a manufacturing centre again.

  30. Stephen Berry
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    We have to remember that it is not only the production of steel itself which is important. Many British firms in car production and the construction industry use steel and will want to buy it as cheaply as possible. If we were foolish enough to put tariffs on foreign steel, these firms would have to pay more and this might in turn, make their products uncompetitive. Even if the British consumers then said that it was still worth paying the extra, the consumer would have less money left over to buy other things. That would mean less demand in other areas of the economy with consequent lay-offs.

    In a previous post (March 31st), ‘hefner’ gave figures which suggested that at the moment the UK was simply uncompetitive when it came to the production of electricity. In my opinion you should fix this by getting to grips with the climate change lobby and allow the cheapest energy production we can manage. If you are not going to do that, at least be honest. Send Amber Rudd down to Port Talbot with an armed guard to tell the Welsh steel workers that all the UK political parties have decided that CO2 levels are such an important issue that all energy intensive industries in this country are going to be closed down. Not sure that the Port Talbot lads will be singing in the valleys however.

  31. Iain gill
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Co2 pollution bad, nuclear pollution good, yet another lop sided political decision

  32. Anonymous
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Why won’t the figures be looked at like this:

    – Work out how many jobs will be lost in the plant and surrounding area
    – work out how much all the benefits and state support is going to cost
    – work out how much the Govt is likely to have to spend on regeneration etc

    Add all that up and put it towards keeping steel production by promising any buyer (preferably British) that the industry will be supported to that sum by our government.

  33. bluedog
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Will we see George Osborne act as broker to the sale of the steel industry from the Indians to the Chinese?

    Surely this is the most obvious outcome given the Cameron government’s position on blocking anti-dumping duties of Chinese steel in Europe. Once the Chinese have a steel making shop-front in the EU through ownership of the British steel industry, as an EU employer they can probably avoid dumping duties and better still, they are powerful allies for Remain. From Osborne’s perspective it would be win-win.

    From Britain’s perspective it reduces the nation to a state of utter subservience to China and the EU.

    Talking big picture stuff, the government seems completely oblivious to the intense rivalry between China and India, with Osborne apparently unable to comprehend that the fate of the British steel industry is that of a pawn in a far larger game.

  34. ian
    Posted April 1, 2016 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    a-tracy
    Each country in the EU has its own climate change levy and ours is the highest, Germany could be 20 to 40% off.

  35. Bazman
    Posted April 2, 2016 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    After a Brexit why don’t we just shut down or at least cut support to all industry and farming that their products can be bought cheaper on the world market and use the money saved to invest in tax cuts giving a massive fillip to the rest of the economy in reduced taxation. What is the point of going to all the trouble of producing steel when someone else will do it cheaper? We do the same with electronics and food so why not steel. The strategic argument is for the birds as we buy coal and let the Chinese build nuclear power stations. If the demand is there the private sector will be there just like in housing with record prices ensuring record building programmes.
    America could lease all the defence equipment, private healthcare roads and so on.
    Its just sound business practice and will give us a competitive edge over the rest of the world and its socialist practices. Why tie up your capital in property and vehicles instead of letting it work for you? Make all property state owned and leased back at reasonable prices to business and citizens instead of being ripped of by a rigged state market that we have now.
    Anything that is not viable means it is not needed! Lets get some competition going!

    • Ken Moore
      Posted April 3, 2016 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

      Bazman – What is the point of going to all the trouble of producing steel when someone else will do it cheaper”

      You , like the government do not understand the difference between creating value and simply recycling it. You have all the qualities of vision and understanding to qualify for a top job in government.

      What has been happening has been a hollowing out of the British economy, with asset ownership being traded for short-term consumption, whilst high value-added jobs have been replaced by more peripheral, casual and lower-paid employment.

      Its your kind of thinking that has led to a massive 7% Uk current account deficit. To pay our way in the world we have to actually create value rather than just recycling it!

  36. Posted April 2, 2016 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Britain should pray other nations tax imports of our steel. The reduced demand means lower prices for home industry requiring steel. What’s not to like? Professors of economics at Cambridge will not get this simple observation because they believe ideologically that money is wealth. Also interesting that politicians across the ideological spectrum also do not get it. Largely due to fear created by the ideology. Rather than analysis of the economics using scientific method

  37. Posted April 2, 2016 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    On the vexing question of British Steel. Is anyone thinking with coherence on it. Or is all thought so far fragmenting nations? Try this…

    “Free trade consists simply in letting people buy and sell as they want to buy and sell. Protective tariffs are as much applications of force as are blockading squadrons, and their objective is the same–to prevent trade. The difference between the two is that blockading squadrons are a means whereby nations seek to prevent their enemies from trading; protective tariffs are a means whereby nations attempt to prevent their own people from trading.

    – Henry George, Protection or Free Trade 1886”

  38. Pat
    Posted April 4, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that a trick is being missed.
    We are told that the Chinese are making way more steel than the market wants and thereby crashing the price of steel.
    They won’t- can’t- keep this up for ever.
    So why isn’t someone simply accepting the present and buying the steel at record low prices, to stockpile and sell on once the price rises?
    Of course, if we think the Chinese will overproduce for ever, why not simply accept their gift?
    Of course that means accepting what we are told.

    Reply Maybe someone is stockpiling. The issue for any given buyer is what types of steel, where do you put them, how do you avoid damage to them in storage, how do you finance the stockpile etc. Markets provide a means for people to take a view

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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