Britain has decided to extend steel tariffs for another two years to protect its ailing industry, the government announced Wednesday.
Trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan, giving the government’s final decision, cited “global disruptions to the energy markets and supply chains” for the move, which breaks with World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations.
“A strategic steel industry is of the utmost importance to the UK, especially given the uncertainty of political and economic waters that we are currently all charting,” Trevelyan told parliament.
“Trade remedies are one of the ways that government can protect their businesses.”
The energy intensive steel sector in Britain, already suffering at the hands of cheap Chinese imports, now faces sky-rocketing production costs as fuel prices surge.
Tariffs imposed on developed countries and China have now been extended to June 2024.
Wednesday’s decision sets the government on collision course with the WTO.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday said the government had to make “tough choices” to support the industry.
Johnson’s political standing is in peril after two crushing by-election defeats last week.
One was in the former industrial city of Wakefield, a seat in northern England that had switched to the Conservatives at the previous general election.
The government hopes action on steel will bolster support in such areas, observers say.