As steel importers face the consequences of EU quotas limiting the amount of non-EU steel available to UK firms, tax barrister and HCR partner Sarah Woodall is deeply involved in moves to find a practical solution.
Sarah, whose extensive HMRC experience means that she is ideally placed to tackle complex issues such as customs procedures, has clients whose imports may be stalled by the fact that the quotas, especially for reinforced steel bars (Rebar) are likely to be exceeded as soon as they come into force.
In practice, this means that any further Rebar imports from outside the EU attract much higher customs tariffs, causing commercial problems for importers. The construction industry in the UK and Ireland requires a different type of bar than the rest of the EU – only 50% of that need can be supplied from within the UK, so it needs to come from sources such as Turkey.
Sarah said: “We may request a judicial review of the quotas, but discussions are continuing, so the situation is fluid at the moment, which creates its own uncertainty.
“There is a review mechanism in place at the European Commission which could address the levels of the quotas, but this is a matter of real urgency for importers and customers, as well as for the whole supply chain.
“Importers are already turning customers away because of this uncertainty; a reasonable solution based on a real awareness of commercial needs is urgently required.”
The quotas were imposed to safeguard the market for EU steel and are based on average imports over the previous three years. The UK needs a specific type of Rebar, with high-fatigue capabilities, and supplying this into the UK needs extra approval which most EU steel mills don’t have.