What are safeguards?

Safeguards are a type of trade remedies measure intended to address unexpected surges in imports that are damaging or threatening to damage domestic producers. Safeguards can take various forms but the most common is a tariff-free quota – this allows the continuation of tariff-free imports at the same level or higher as the period before the safeguard was introduced.

Why do we have UK steel safeguards?

The UK inherited its steel safeguards from the EU which introduced its own equivalent measure in 2018 principally to guard against import diversion from the US after the introduction of Section 232 tariffs by President Trump.
This raised the risk that much of this steel would be diverted to other markets, with the EU being a prime candidate as the largest tariff-free market for steel in the world.

What happens if imports go above the safeguards quota?

It is only if the imports go above the quota level that a tariff is applied to further imports. Quotas are calculated based on historical imports. Safeguards must be applied equally to all imports rather than target specific countries, with the exception of developing countries with a low import share.

How have the US and EU been protected?

The US measures, still in place today, introduced a 25% tariff on all steel imports with an aim to significantly reduce the 30 million tonnes of steel that were imported into the US each year.
The EU Commission, with the support of the UK Government, introduced steel safeguards to guard against this risk as well as to address long-standing concerns about global overcapacity of steel production, state intervention and market distortions in many countries.

How did safeguards transition to the UK?

The UK transitioned the steel safeguards into UK law in January 2021 followed by an investigation by the Trade Remedies Authority (TRA) to determine whether the measure should remain in place. Of the 19 products reviewed, the TRA recommended maintaining the measure for 10. Following intervention by the Secretary of State, an additional 5 products were also included.

Why do UK steel safeguards get reviewed?

The current safeguard measures are due to expire in June 2024, with the option of being extended for a maximum of another two years. The purpose of the extension review is to assess whether injury to the UK industry would occur should the measures be left to expire in June 2024.