LONDON, Feb 2 (Reuters) - British steelmakers on Monday added their voice to calls for the European Commission to take action over what they say is the dumping of cheap steel in EU markets, adding that a recovery in the UK steel sector almost ground to a halt last year.
European steel body Eurofer has said EU steelmakers were losing market share to cheap imports from countries such as China, while a German steel association has said it expects slow growth in its sector this year due to imports.
According to UK Steel, rising imports were the primary reason that steel output rose just 0.2 percent in Britain last year versus a 24 percent rise in 2013. UK steel is a division of the EEF, Britain’s largest manufacturing trade association.
“Although steel demand in the UK recovered last year, the main beneficiaries have been foreign producers,” UK Steel said.
“The progressive rise in the value of sterling, the improved demand ... the sharp slowdown in Chinese growth ... (made) our market a magnet for overseas steel companies with excess capacity on their hands,” it said in a statement.
Steel exports from China, by far the world’s largest steel producer and consumer, surged 50.5 percent in 2014 from a year earlier to 93.78 million tonnes, Chinese customs data shows.
UK Steel said imports took up about 60 percent of the British market last year, versus 56 percent in 2013.
It also estimates British steel demand recovered by some 12 percent last year, but local steelmakers struggled to benefit.
Tata Steel for example, Europe’s second-largest steelmaker, entered talks last year to sell some of its largest steelmaking operations in Britain to Geneva-based Klesch Group.
The EEF has some 5,000 member firms in British engineering, manufacturing, technology and the wider industrial sector. (Editing by David Evans)