Chinese Ambassador to the United Kingdom Liu Xiaoming has called on the two countries to work together to solve the current difficulties faced by their steel industries.
In a signed article published in London’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper, Liu said that some in Britain blame China for the closures and layoffs suffered by British steel industry and accuse China of “dumping” steel in Britain.
“Making China the ‘scapegoat’ only misleads the public and contributes nothing to the solution of the problem,” he said.
Liu noted several reasons behind the woes of Britain’s steel industry, including a shift of traditional manufacturing economy to the one of modern services and finance, worldwide overcapacity caused by weak demand and high costs of steel production in Britain.
He pointed out that China’s steel exports to Britain is not to be blamed for the predicament since in both volume and value, steel imports from China make up only a fraction of the UK’s total steel imports.
A recent decision by India’s Tata Steel to sell it British business had thrown the UK industry in turmoil and threatening tends of thouands of jobs, with many blaming the government and cheap Chinese imports for the current state of affairs.
In 2015, out of the UK’s 6.66 million tons of imported steel, 760,000 tons or 11 percent came from China. This amounted to $457 million, or only 7.6 percent of total British steel imports of $5.98 billion, he said.
Moreover, steel products from China are mostly low value-added, such as ordinary steel rods and plates, which Britain no longer makes and would have to import from other countries anyway, the ambassador said.
“Therefore, imports from China have no impact upon the British steel market. On the contrary, by importing steels from China, the auto, machinery, construction and other British industries have effectively lowered their costs and increased their profit margin,” Liu said.
Like their British counterparts, steelmakers in China are also in difficulty, which is “even more serious and challenging,” Liu said.
China has reduced steel capacity by 90 million tons and is going to cut its crude steel capacity by 100 to 150 million tons in the next fives years, he said.
“This new round of reductions will result in several million lay-offs and relocations of steelworkers, far outnumbering those in the UK,” he said.
“Both China and the UK have huge challenges on our way ahead — to reform and revitalize our respective steel sectors, and to provide help and support to those workers who might lose their jobs,” he said.
Overcapacity in the steel industry is a global problem, which calls for a global solution with stronger communication and co-operation among all steelmakers worldwide, who have the joint responsibility to uphold the order of steel trade and promote the sound development of the global steel industry, Liu said