China not to blame for UK’s steel crisis, says ambassador

Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese Ambassador to the UK, denied allegations his country has been “dumping” imports onto the steel market, and claimed that British companies are “less competitive and less profitable” in low end steel production, reports The Telegraph.

Aiming to rebuff continued criticism of China’s tactics in global steel markets, Liu’s comments are designed to outline how his home country perceives the continuing problems in the over-supplied industry.

His comments come after Labour politicians have blamed China for the state of the industry, with Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock accusing British trade policy of “being in hock to China,” while Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has said the Government should intervene to alleviate the situation.

Writing for The Daily Telegraph, the ambassador describes the situation the British steel industry finds itself in as a “sad story” for a country which once produced half the world’s steel.

“It is regrettable that some people in Britain blamed China for what is happening in the British steel industry,” Liu writes.

“Making China the ‘scapegoat’ only misleads the public and contributes nothing to the solution of the problem.”

Liu says there are several reasons for what he calls the “sluggishness” in the UK’s steel sector, not least the shift to a service sector economy, scarce demand and high production costs.

In a series of stark comments, however, he emphasises that his country is not to blame, saying that Chinese imports “have no impact” because the amount of steel imported is low.

He goes on to argue that what imports there are have been good for the British car and construction industries by lowering costs.

His comments come the day before Tata Steel is due to open the sales process for its Port Talbot works, which employ 4,000 people, and the day that Greybull is due to complete its purchase of Tata’s Scunthorpe site.

Bar any last minute delays, Greybull, the distressed debt investor which also owns Monarch Airlines and the MyLocal chain of convenience supermarkets, will on Monday back a management-led buy-out of the 150-year-old Scunthorpe works, safeguarding 5,000 jobs.