Will the UK have the world's weakest trade remedy regime?
Fears that the UK will be flooded with cheap steel, ceramics and other products after Brexit have been voiced by a leading trade union.
Ahead of the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill (the “Customs Bill”) receiving its second reading, the GMB called for the proposed Trade Remedies Authority (TRA) to be given the powers necessary to protect UK markets and jobs. The TRA itself is to be established under distinct but related legislation — the Trade Bill.
The effectiveness of the protection will, the union argues, depend on the Government introducing strong anti-dumping legislation.
Tackling unfair dumping here and in other Member States is currently the responsibility of the European Commission, which acts in accordance with EU legislation.
Once the UK leaves the EU, however, it will have to defend itself against unfair trading practices — something the GMB fears will be hard to do if the Government continues with its current approach to the issue.
In a letter signed by the union and nine other organisations that are part of the Manufacturers Trade Remedies Alliance (MTRA), the Government has been accused of ignoring previous submissions regarding the proposed UK trade remedy system.
MTRA members expressed concern that the proposed approach “appears to be predicated on a view that trade remedies are protectionist instruments that are ‘at best tolerated’”.
That view is, it stresses, fundamentally flawed because the role of effective trade remedies is to ensure a level playing field and to support effective competition.
Unless the Government changes tack, the GMB and other signatories fear that the UK will be heading towards “the weakest trade remedy regime in the world”.
At a time of uncertainty for British business, the UK should be legislating for a tried and tested approach to trade remedies, not an experimental one, the letter concludes.