EU-UK deal agrees steel quota solution

The EU Commission and UK government have agreed a solution for the movement of the most sensitive categories of steel from Great Britain to Northern Ireland that are subject to tariff rate quotas (TRQs). This comes as part of the changes agreed to the Northern Ireland Protocol on Monday, Kallanish notes.

Northern Ireland companies will now be able to use the EU’s TRQs for steel, providing them access to UK-origin steel in these categories. This will allow them to avoid having to pay the 25% tariff linked to the EU safeguard measures currently in place for steel imports into the EU, the Commission notes.

In response, UK Steel director general Gareth Stace says the deal “will make a significant difference in being able to move steel tariff-free from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, in the context of a complex interplay between the terms of the Protocol and the EU’s steel safeguard quotas. The provision of separate quotas for certain products that can be earmarked for the UK’s use for shipments into Northern Ireland creates a blueprint that can be more widely applied and demonstrates a willingness to find workable solutions.”

“The previous arrangement had meant that the UK was dependent on whether countries like Turkey were using up the EU’s quotas to determine whether steel could be moved within the UK tariff-free. This was clearly illogical and we are hugely pleased that a sensible solution has been agreed in what until recently appeared as a stalemate,” Stace continues.

“While the new arrangement does not solve all problems in relation to trade with Northern Ireland, it marks a positive step forward, addressing the most urgent issues and creating a framework for reaching further solutions,” he concludes.

Since the start of 2021, the UK implemented a temporary “workaround” to ensure steel moved from Great Britain to Northern Ireland remained tariff free. However, changes the EU made to its steel safeguard regime last July resulted in this workaround no longer working for constructional steels including steel beams and reinforcing bar. The exhaustion of EU quotas for these product categories had resulted in steel movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland being liable to tariffs.

Adam Smith Poland