Unite and industry bodies call for Customs Bill to be amended

Unite has joined forces with other unions and manufacturing trade associations in a united call on MPs to amend the customs bill. In a letter published today (5 Jan) in the Financial Times, leaders from eleven national organisations urge parliament to strengthen the UK’s new trade remedies to stop the illegal dumping of components including steel, chemicals, glass and paper.

This is needed to defend British manufacturing jobs against anti-competitive trade practices.

The Taxation (Cross Border Trade) bill, known as the customs bill, receives its second reading in the House of Commons on Monday (8 Jan). The group has sent a briefing to MPs highlighting the bill’s weaknesses on trade remedies, which are significantly weaker than current European Union ones, and suggesting ways it could be improved to better defend UK manufacturing jobs, but so far the government has failed to take them on board.

Tony Burke, Unite’s assistant general secretary for manufacturing said:

“Instead of free trade, the customs bill will create a free-for-all. If the UK has the world’s weakest trade remedies, many thousands of high quality jobs in manufacturing are at risk across the country. This is too important an issue for the government to carry on regardless. They must make significant improvements to the bill.”

Gareth Stace, Director of UK Steel said:

“A significant cause of the recent steel crisis was the illegal dumping of steel by Chinese, state supported, producers onto the UK market. To ensure that this doesn’t happen again, as we leave the EU, the UK needs an effective trade remedies regime, that enables free trade to take place, in what is a global market. Unfortunately, in its current form, the customs bill will fail to achieve this goal. All we want is a level playing field.”

Dr Laura Cohen MBE, Chief Executive of the British Ceramic Confederation said:

“Effective EU trade remedies have helped our sector to recover and grow in recent years. We’re deeply worried that the customs bill would create UK trade remedies that are significantly weaker than the EU or any other major economy. If government take on board our proposed changes, we’d be much happier”.

Unions are also demanding seats on the proposed trade remedies authority.

Read the letter in full