UK’s TRA reviews Russia, Belarus steel import quotas to avoid supply shortage

The UK has launched a review of steel imports from Russia and Belarus to assess whether the tariff rate quotas for Russia and Belarus should be reallocated to avoid a potential shortage of steel, the Trade Remedies Authority said April 6 in a statement from the UK government.

The TRA has initiated a tariff rate quota, or TRQ, review of steel imports that are part of the UK’s safeguard trade remedy measure.

The UK government explained in a statement that, as with any safeguard measure, the UK had given all importing countries a quota to import a certain amount of steel at a basic tariff rate into the UK and once the quota was exhausted, they had to pay a higher rate.

Due to sanctions imposed on some imports from Russia and Belarus, exporters may not be able to fulfil their quotas and reallocating them to other countries “could help ensure a regular supply of steel needed for construction, engineering, the automotive industries and other uses,” it said.

The TRA’s proposed course of action would be to redistribute Russia and Belarus’ specific TRQs to other exporting countries, the government said.

“The TRA has the discretion to act quickly when there’s a change of circumstances which affects the UK economy,” TRA CEO Oliver Griffiths said.

“This review looks to address the risk of a shortage of steel into the UK as a result of sanctions on Russia and Belarus. Reallocating quotas should help keep steel prices down for construction and other domestic industries,” he added.

The TRA manages the UK’s trade remedy measures and has extended a safeguard measure countering steel imports, which the UK inherited from the European Union system.

In March, the TRA announced it would be undertaking additional analysis on the UK’s steel import safeguards regime, as part of an assessment of the impact of trade on the integrated nature of the UK steel sector.

The UK government said it had the power to review its import TRQs covered by safeguard measures if circumstances changed after the measure is set and the current review was an economic adjustment in response to a change of circumstances.

“The UK’s trade remedies system follows WTO rules and is designed to make sure UK industries are not damaged by unfair trade practices or unexpected surges in imports,” the government added.

In mid-March the European Commission adjusted its EU steel imports quota system and redistributed the quotas previously allotted to Russia and Belarus, effective April 1, to avoid regional market shortages.

— Jacqueline Holman