British steelmakers forced to pay 25% tax on sales of N Ireland

British steelmakers will have to pay a 25% tariff to sell some construction products into Northern Ireland after the EU’s global import quota expires earlier than expected.

Steelmakers and stockholders were informed of the new tariffs on Wednesday in an announcement from HM Revenue & Customs, prompting a backlash from the industry.

Gareth Stace, General Manager of UK Steel, the industry trade association, said: “It is not uncommon for UK manufacturers to be prevented by these tariffs from selling goods to customers in the UK. their family”.

He added: “To further hurt EU steelmakers could continue to export duty-free this goods across the UK, but we can no longer do so in the opposite direction.

UK Steel has called on the government to immediately suspend the tariffs.

The prospect of British companies paying taxes to deposit steel in the UK’s internal market is extremely politically sensitive and is likely to anger the Union community in the region further. who rejected the protocol because it divided the UK.

Both candidates to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister next month have pledged to pass legislation that would give UK ministers the power to unilaterally rewrite the protocol they have declared “impossible”. .

Brussels has warned that if the UK presses ahead with the law, it will breach its international treaty commitments and risk having the entire EU-UK trade cooperation agreement suspended.

Under the agreement governing post-Brexit trade arrangements for Northern Ireland, all goods traveling from the UK are subject to EU tariffs if they are “at risk” of passing through the Republic of Ireland and the EU’s single market. .

When the Northern Ireland protocol came into force in early 2021, an interim solution was set up to give British companies a specific quota to export into the province duty-free.

This changed the following July a decision in Brussels to lump the individual national quotas together. This has opened up the UK’s market share to other countries faster in using global quotas, UK Steel said.

Richard Warren, UK Steel’s head of policy, said: “Countries like Turkey are using huge amounts of quotas and nobody else is.”

European Commission, in its decision on steel tariff quotas, saying it had consciously rejected the idea of ​​creating special arrangements for the UK based on “historic trade” between the UK and Northern Ireland.

Sam Lowe, a trade expert at the consulting firm Flint Global, wrote that political relations between London and Brussels deteriorated over the Northern Ireland protocol which exacerbated the commission’s refusal to include make exceptions for the UK.

“This is something that could be resolved quite easily if the EU-UK relationship goes better. But it’s not,” he wrote in his Most Favored Nation blog on trade issues earlier this month.

Global quotas are renewed quarterly, but the UK-specific de-allocation means UK producers will likely face tariffs again in the autumn, Warren said. British steel companies fear that this will encourage customers to turn to EU suppliers to avoid the uncertainty of tariffs.

Neither the UK government nor the European Commission would comment.

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