MTRA letter to Secretary of State

8 January 2020

Rt Hon Liz Truss MPSecretary of State
Department for International Trade
3 Whitehall Place
London SW1A 2HP

Dear Secretary of State,

We look forward to working with you as you continue in the role of Secretary of State for International Trade.

As you will be aware the Manufacturing Trade Remedy Alliance (MTRA) has worked cross-party to ensure that the UK has a fit for purpose trade remedies system. The election of a new government is an opportunity to reflect on the approach that has been previously adopted in relation to key issues. In this regard, it seems the right time to remind you that the regime, in its current form, falls short of the protections required to ensure that UK industry has a robust, transparent remedies system to protect against unfair trade post Brexit. MTRA has played an active role in helping to develop recent modernisation of the EU system and the UK regime falls short of the EU’s protection. We are committed to ensuring transparency, scrutiny and co-operation towards achieving a UK trade remedies system which serves our country, its industries and workers well. We call for the following essential changes to be made to the UK trade remedies system:

  • The UK system should provide the same level of protection for UK jobs in manufacturing as the EU system does for its Member States from dumping and unfair trade practices, especially by non-market economies such as China.
  • China should be treated as a non-market economy as provided for by the China WTO Accession Protocol.
  • When selecting data to use in place of state distorted costs in the calculation of constructed normal value, preference should be given for data from countries meeting ILO conventions.
  • The lesser duty rule should not be compulsory in every case so that it can be ensured that remedies on dumped and subsidised imports are adequate to remove the problem.
  • Future environmental, regulatory and labour costs should be fully taken into account when calculating injury to an industry.
  • The economic interest test should be a ‘sense check’ which includes an adequate presumption in favour of the adoption of measures when dumping or subsidies are found, rather than novel tests which could lead to no remedies being applied in situations where protection from the unfair trade is needed. No other major global trade remedy authorities use this approach and it raises concerns that UK trade remedies will not be adequate to rectify situations of unfair trade.
  • For the transition reviews, a strong link should be maintained with the original EU measures. The focus of the analysis should be whether the measure was justified when it was adopted rather than current data. The TRA/TRID has the discretion not to recalculate the dumping/subsidy margin and guidance should be provided for this discretion to be used to ensure that resources are allocated to the cases where there is a strong case for the level of measures to be amended.
  • UK customs should be robust when the UK has an independent trade policy, not least to ensure that any UK specific trade remedies are enforceable. This should include the situation where 3rd country imports subject to UK trade remedies have entered the UK through the Ireland/Northern Ireland border.
  • The government should ensure that HMRC is able to provide adequate data to ensure that import trends can be monitored.
  • The TRA must have manufacturing employers and trade unions represented as non-executive members to ensure the concerns of working people and manufacturing are properly addressed.

We are keen to continue engaging both with you and the officials at your department to ensure the above and other issues are addressed, particularly in relation to implementation and operation of the UK system by the TRA/TRID and trade remedy issues in any FTAs we are developing as a country.

We would welcome an opportunity to meet with you in January to further explore these issues at this critical time.

Yours sincerely

Laura Cohen MBE
Chair, Manufacturing Trade Remedies Alliance

Distribution to (by e-mail):
DIT: Amanda Brooks, Graham Zebedee, Gaynor Jeffery
TRID: Claire Bassett
BEIS: Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP
Angus MacNeil MP
Barry Gardiner MP
Lord Purvis of Tweed
Stewart Hosie MP