David Martin MEP

Labour Member of the European Parliament and one of the six MEPs representing Scotland in Brussels and Strasbourg

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David Martin MEP is calling on the European Commission and EU ministers to block full Market Economy Status (MES) for China unless it stops dumping cheap steel on to the market.

Tomorrow (12 May) Mr Martin and his fellow Labour MEPs will vote in Strasbourg for what is expected to be a popular resolution calling on the Commission and Council not to grant MES to China until the Chinese economy is one where supply, demand and prices of goods and services are determined by the market.

The dumping of cheap Chinese steel - selling it at below the price it can fetch at home, or exporting it at below the cost of production - is threatening the future of Europe's steel industry, with plants across Britain under threat.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the trade ministers of EU national governments will be meeting in Brussels to discuss a long-delayed reform of EU trade defence instruments - reforms that have been blocked for two years by a number of national governments led by the UK.
David Martin MEP, Socialists and Democrats Group spokesperson on international trade, said:

"The more China dumps cheap steel onto the market, the more Europe's jobs and industry are threatened. We must stand firm in the face of this unfair competition.

"Whilst valuing the economic benefits of greater cooperation with China, the world's largest trading nation, Europe must not be a soft touch. China is not a market economy and should not be recognised as one when calculating anti-dumping sanctions. Granting them Market Economy Status in the current circumstances would tighten the noose around the UK steel industry's neck.

"We urgently need to modernise our trade defence measures and should not be afraid to use all the tools at our disposal to protect European industries against dumping and other harmful trade practices. The British government must realise that the current crisis is linked to their inaction at EU level.
"The Commission and governments - especially our own - must listen and act, and do so now, while we still have a steel industry.

"This Friday, when trade ministers will meet in Brussels, the UK government should stop blocking the crucial reforms to EU trade defence instruments which our industries rely on."

Scottish MEP supports action to stop China dumping cheap steel on EU market

David Martin MEP is calling on the European Commission and EU ministers to block full Market Economy Status (MES) for China unless it stops dumping cheap steel on to the...

The troubling news from Port Talbot and other key steelmaking communities across Britain can hardly be described as a wake-up call. British production of steel has been steadily declining over the last decades and in 2015 over 5,000 jobs were lost in this sector, including 250 in Motherwell and Cambuslang. However, Tata Steel's decision to sell off its British operations could well be the final nail in the coffin for this once proud industry.

How did we get here? Despite the British government's protestations, this isn't just the free market at work.

Across Europe there are over 40,000 fewer jobs in the steel industry compared to 2007. This is in a large part down to unfairly cheap imports from China, who are dumping their overproduction onto the EU market at rock-bottom prices. The OECD estimates that it has built up over 400 million tonnes of excess capacity - twice the EU's annual steel production - and it is selling it at around half the price of its EU competitors.

Dumping, simply put, is where you sell your products abroad at an artificially lower price than you would on your home market. Those who are familiar with the Chinese economy will tell you that the government intervenes on a massive scale, therefore depressing the prices of its products abroad. This has been exacerbated in recent years because of the slowdown in their domestic economy as they look for new markets.

In Britain, the government's recent relationship with China has been cosy. They rolled out the red carpet last October and gave the President Xi Jinping a royal welcome. Also we learn that the First Minister signed in March a £10bn deal with a Chinese consortium, apparently in secret.

Investment should of course be welcomed as part of a broader economic policy. However, dealing with such a large economic partner also brings risks, especially when their economic model doesn't abide by our market rules. The steel crisis is further evidence of China simply not playing ball. This is why at the EU level we have to be more cautious. Of course China is an important world player and greater economic cooperation can bring benefits to both sides. However, we must make sure our relations are based on a level playing field.

For one, this means improving the EU's trade defence measures so that cases can be more quickly and effectively dealt with. To this end, one of the major stumbling blocks has been a group of member states (led by the UK) who have vetoed attempts to give the EU more teeth.

Whether they were unwilling to displease their new Chinese friends or, equally lamentably, unable to back up Brussels in the context of a toxic atmosphere of Euroscepticism at the heart of government, we do not know. However, the UK government must now see the link between that inaction and the present crisis.

Secondly, it means refusing to grant China what is called 'Market Economy Status' (MES) at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) under the current circumstances. Doing so would further threaten the impact that our trade defence measures can have in protecting our industry and jobs from unfair competition. Some estimates predict that up to 3.5 million European jobs are at risk if this little-known measure goes through. Judged by the Commission's own rules, China clearly does not qualify as a 'market economy'. For these reasons as Socialist and Democrat MEPs we urge the Commission not to automatically recognise China as a market economy before a comprehensive impact assessment is carried out into its possible effects.

For now, however, these measures will come too late for the people of Port Talbot, Redcar, Rotherham and any other town whose industry is at risk from unfair foreign competition. The loss of skilled jobs will hit these places hard, and they are currently ill-equipped to deal with the aftermath. The ball is firmly in the court of the UK government to take responsibility and minimise the devastation to these communities.

Looking forward, it is clear that the EU could and should do more to protect European industry from this kind of disaster. The short-sighted economic thinking of this Conservative government has been a major obstacle. Perhaps this is the shock they need to develop a proper industrial strategy that will deliver sustainable jobs in manufacturing for future generations.

The Herald, AGENDA, Tuesday April 5, 2016

We are paying a heavy price for a cosy relationship with the Chinese

The troubling news from Port Talbot and other key steelmaking communities across Britain can hardly be described as a wake-up call. British production of steel has been steadily declining over...

Following Tata Steel's announcement that it will sell its UK steel business, David Martin, Scottish MEP and spokesperson for trade for the Social and Democratic (S&D) Group in the European Parliament demanded stronger measures to protect European industry from unfair competition.

"The sale or closure of Tata Steel's operations in UK endangers thousands of skilled jobs in Port Talbot and across many other sites. These areas are which can ill afford such losses and will have a devastating impact on local communities.

The dumping of vast amounts of Chinese steel at rock bottom prices is having a disastrous effect on the EU steel industry. Europe must not be a soft touch. It should not be afraid to use the all the tools at its disposal to protect European industries against dumping and other harmful trade practices.

The S&D group have made it clear that the Council of Ministers must stop dragging its heels on the modernisation of trade defence measures. Jobs and livelihoods depend on EU action being quicker and more effective. But this can only happen if every member state government gets on board."

For more information on the S&D group's position on China please see my blog here

David Martin MEP urges swift EU action to defend jobs in British steel industry

Following Tata Steel's announcement that it will sell its UK steel business, David Martin, Scottish MEP and spokesperson for trade for the Social and Democratic (S&D) Group in the European...


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