The immediate impact of EU-imposed quotas on steel, especially the type imported into the UK as reinforcing bars, or rebars, called on Sarah Woodall’s experience and expertise in handling complex negotiations over customs tariffs.
The EU imposed quotas to prevent the market being flooded with Chinese steel after the US imposed a 25% tariff on steel imports into America. But the quotas were set in such a way that, as soon as they came into force, they were likely to be exceeded immediately.
This hit the type of steel needed in the UK – the UK’s construction industry requires steel to meet a British kite mark standards and that type of steel is not available from many of the world’s major producers like Belarus and Russia.
Sarah was called by a client whose steel imports were at sea, waiting to dock in the UK – they knew that if the shipload of steel docked when planned, it would immediately take up all of the quota, and more, allocated for that type of steel. This would mean that the client would be hit with a very large bill for the higher tariffs charged for a quota excess, wiping out any profit from the tonnes of steel on board.
Sarah then had detailed and prolonged discussions with the Department for International Trade, the European Commission, her client and HMRC to enable the shipments to come into the UK minimising exposures to tariffs within the law.
Sarah said: “There were ships loaded with steel waiting out at sea, not knowing where they should dock and unload. We managed eventually to get the steel landed without the imposition of duty on all of it. There will now be a review of the position in April, which will inform what the European Commission do next.”