Britain has asked China to tackle over-capacity in its steel industry, hoping to stem the flood of cheap imports into Europe which India’s Tata Steel said caused it to pull out of the United Kingdom, putting 15,000 jobs at risk.
Tata put its entire UK business up for sale last month, including steel works at Port Talbot in south Wales, saying it could no longer endure mounting losses caused by increased imports to Europe from countries like China, high manufacturing costs and domestic market weakness.
“I urged China to accelerate its efforts to reduce levels of steel production,” Britain’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in a statement after in talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing.
“The UK’s focus is on finding a long-term sustainable future for steel making at Port Talbot and across the UK, and I welcomed the potential interest of Chinese companies in investment in UK steel-making.”
The global steel industry is suffering from over-capacity as a slowdown in growth in the Chinese economy has dampened demand.
China, which produces half of the world’s steel, and Russia have responded by diverting more of their steel output to markets like Europe.
The European Union opened three anti-dumping investigations into Chinese steel products in February and imposed new duties on imports after the European steel industry said thousands of jobs were at stake.
China said earlier on Saturday that plans to shut steel mills over the next five years would cut capacity to an estimated 1.13 billion tonnes by 2020, which is still far in excess of the country’s needs.