UK-EU talks only way to address steel tariff issue, says Farry

Stephen Farry Protocol

Alliance MP Stephen Farry has called on the UK Government and EU to renegotiate a specific and enhanced tariff rate quota to cover UK steel movements into Northern Ireland and the EU.

It comes on the back of the EU changing some rules on steel imports in light of Russian aggression against Ukraine and the loss of the specific UK Tariff Rate Quota. The Alliance Deputy Leader said there was a need for trust and good faith between the parties as a key ingredient in reaching a solution.

“The imposition of the 25 per cent tariff is clearly a problem for local manufacturers who depend on steel imports from Great Britain. It brings more costs and uncertainty on top of the pain from the energy crisis,” said the North Down MP.

“However, it is also an issue for Irish companies who source their steel via a UK supply chain, which negates a simplistic analysis this is solely a consequence of the Protocol. This is yet another consequence of Brexit.

“The problem lies in the intersection between the Protocol and a weak UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement, in which the UK Government did not adequately foresee this and ensure it was addressed. The specific complication arises from the EU treating steel imports under a trade defence measure and the removal of the UK-specific Tariff Rate Quota. 

“This problem needs to be addressed. But it is not going to sorted through further UK confrontation with the EU. Indeed, the terms of the current Protocol Bill can’t directly solve this. 

“The UK Government and the EU Commission need to negotiate a fresh, specific tariff rate quota for movements from GB into Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the EU, and in the longer-term fix the Trade and Co-operation Agreement. 

“The key ingredient for progress on this, alongside finding solutions on other Protocol challenges, lies through building trust and confidence. Unilateral action, in particular the passage and implementation of the NI Protocol Bill, will be very counterproductive.”