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A leading official in the EU’s steel industry has warned a no deal Brexit would be hugely destructive for business. The expert warned the impact of Britain leaving on WTO terms would be exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which is currently in its second wave.
Alessandro Sciamarelli, an official with the European Steel Association (Eurofer), told a webinar: “Brexit remains a threat because there’s a high likelihood that we will get at the end of the day a no-deal.
“We are getting prepared for that.”
He added: “At Eurofer, we are very much against a no-deal Brexit.”
Mr Sciamarelli, director of market analysis and economic studies, warned EU steel consumption is already due to dramatically fall this year due to the impact of the pandemic.
He said consumption is expected to fall by 14.6 percent, after the pandemic hit industrial activity, particularly the auto sector.
The expert also pointed out apparent crude steel demand, which measures steel producers’ output plus imports minus exports, fell by 25.5 percent in the second quarter – the biggest drop ever recorded.
Steel demand is expected to bounce back by 13.1 percent in 2021, but the second wave of the virus makes such a recovery uncertain.
Mr Sciamarelli said: “The outlook for 2021 is very much affected by pandemic developments and the extension of this new wave we’re having.”
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Moreover, he warned the industry’s recovery could also be affected by the outcome of post-Brexit trade talks with the UK.
Negotiations resumed in London this week, in a last-minute bid to reach a trade agreement.
Significant progress has so far been made, with the two sides said to be close to finalising a draft legal text on future common standards, including state subsidies for businesses, as part of a tentative breakthrough in the talks.
But despite making progress in some areas, disagreement remains on key areas such as the level-playing field and fisheries.
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Fisheries remains one of the toughest issues to solve in the coming days, with the subject still shown as a “red light” on the EU’s traffic light system for progress.
Yesterday Cabinet Minister Michael Gove hit out at Wales for suggesting the UK drop its demand on fisheries.
In a letter to Jeremy Miles, Wale’s Minister for European Transition, Mr Gove revealed Britain will not back down on demands to the EU over fisheries.
He wrote: “I am afraid we strongly disagree with your premise that we should `back down’ on fisheries.
“The UK Government’s view is that in all circumstances, the UK must be an independent coastal state, no longer be bound by the Common Fisheries Policy.”
The talks have moved to Brussels today for one final push before a potential political intervention from Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
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