EU steel association calls for swift Brexit agreement

European steel association Eurofer has urged the European Union and the United Kingdom to reach a trade agreement as soon as possible to guarantee frictionless trade, Eurofer said Wednesday.

“While each side rightly wants to defend its regulatory autonomy, a deal that ensures EU and UK trade interactions are fair, reciprocal and frictionless is essential,” Axel Eggert, director general of Eurofer said.

Eurofer highlighted that mutual market access, as well as alignment of standards on state aid, competition policy, state-owned enterprises, employment, environment, climate change, relevant tax matters and other regulatory measures and practices, would be vital.

During the current transition period, nothing changes in terms of the UK’s trading relationship with the EU. If the EU and UK agree on an extension, they must do so by July 1 to avoid that the transition ends on December 31, even if there is no agreement reached.

“No deal would be the worst possible outcome – erecting barriers to trade overnight that would be needlessly damaging,” said Eggert.

Eurofer cut its 2020 EU apparent steel consumption outlook to an increase of 1.2% at 159 million mt from a 1.4% forecast in its fourth-quarter 2019 report earlier this year.

The association said the major risk factors are escalating trade wars between the US and several of its main trading partners, mostly China, even after signing of the phase one trade agreement on January 15 eased frictions, and persistent uncertainty regarding the final Brexit deal to be agreed by the end of 2020. These factors are set to weigh on trade conditions in 2020, and may even lead to a further deterioration in business sentiment.

— Laura Varriale