Exports of steel heading from Great Britain into Northern Ireland could soon face huge tariffs after the EU changed steel quota rules.
Enacted due to the war in Ukraine and relating to the Northern Ireland protocol, new tariffs on certain steel products could hit 25%.
Industry group, UK Steel, has already appealed to the government to suspend tariffs immediately, saying it’s ‘farcical that UK producers are now prevented by these tariffs from selling goods to customers in their own country’.
Steel exports from GB into Northern Ireland had been tariff-free thanks to the tariff rate quota covering UK exports into the EU.
The TRQ rules mean that certain products can be moved from country to country without tariffs being paid, so long as they don’t breach a quota mark.
But the EU updated these rules in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, intended to give EU steel importers more flexibility in the absence of trading with Russia – resulting in quotas of GB supplies into NI hitting the limit faster than usual.
Steel industry specialist Sam Lowe told the BBC that: “Whereas before the UK had access to its own country-specific quota, which it could rely on to accommodate steel moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, now these movements would be covered by the ‘other countries’ quota which could fill up much more quickly, given the entire world has access to it.
“Once it is full: 25% tariff on steel moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.”
The UK government has so far commented to say this is an example of the Northern Ireland Protocol ‘needlessly damaging trade within the UK’.