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Future of Welsh steel industry at risk from US tariffs

Donald Trump has slapped a 25% tax on all steel made in Wales and the rest of the UK. Credit: PA

There are fresh fears for the future of the Welsh steel industry after President Trump imposed tariffs on metal imports into the US.

Last night, Donald Trump slapped a 25% tax on all steel made in Wales and the rest of the UK.

UK Steel says it will have a "profound and detrimental impact" and trade partners have warned it could provoke a "global trade war".

7,000
the number of Tata employees in Wales.

Tata currently employs around 7,000 workers in Wales but there are also other steel producers at Celsa in Cardiff and Liberty in Newport.

The tariff, due to take effect in 15 days, was aimed at protecting national security and American jobs, Mr Trump said.

But businesses say the tariff on imported steel will increase costs, raising prices for consumers and unions have warned it could potentially put people out of work.

Port Talbot's MP Stephen Kinnock, say workers have been "let down" as Theresa May has failed to stand up to Trump.

He said: "It would be a bitter a blow for the steelworks after two years of crisis we're just beginning to turn things around and now this comes along. It's very worrying as 15% of the steel we make in the UK goes to the US but it's also a double whammy because it could potentially mean 25 million tons of steel which doesn't find a home in the US ends up being dumped on the European market so it would be a double blow for the industry."

A UK Government spokesperson responded by saying tariffs are not the right way to address overcapacity.

The Government has been clear that tariffs are not the right way to address the global problem of overcapacity, which requires a multilateral solution.

We will work with EU partners to consider the scope for exemptions outlined yesterday and continue to work with all the sectors involved in this decision to robustly support our industries and demonstrate the importance of their high-quality products for US industries and security.

– UK Government spokesperson

The Welsh Government has also said that tariffs will not solve the steel industry's global problems.

A return to the protectionism of the past is not the answer and we have already written to the UK Government to express our serious concerns about the potential impact US tariffs could have on the Welsh steel industry.

We remain absolutely committed to doing all we can to support our steel industry and to promoting international trade, which is vital to ensuring the prosperity of Welsh people and communities.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

Speaking in the White House with a group of workers, Mr Trump confirmed the levy on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminium in response to an "assault on our country" from cheap overseas metal.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said it would be "absurd" for the UK to be hit by the tariffs adding that it was "the wrong way" to tackle the problem of cheap steel being dumped on the US market.

There would be exemptions for North America Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) states Mexico and Canada, and Mr Trump said other countries may be able to negotiate to avoid the tariffs.

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