Tariffs of Trump May Cause Mass Job Cuts in the European Steel Industry

Photo by Gage Skidmore from Flickr

Industry leaders have warned that mass job cuts of steelworkers in Europe are emerging as an outcome of the protectionist trade policy of US President Donald Trump.

A gloomy message was released by the European Steel Association () as its members gathered in Brussels during their annual conference amidst a global crisis that is experienced by the sector.

Geert Van Poelvoorde, the president of Eurofer, estimated the possible number of job cuts in the tens of thousands and cautioned that the industry could be “slaughtered.”

Last year, steel manufacturers in Europe did approximately £5bn worth of businesses with the United States – and the 35 steel sites of the United Kingdom accounted for £300m of that total.

The exports of the European steel manufacturers to the United States are set to be reduced by at least a third as an outcome of the 25 percent tariff that was imposed on their goods by the President of the US last week.

They will also experience a double blow as steel that are produced outside the European Union that was set for the United States is now diverted into Europe, the second-largest steel market in the world.

The imports of steel to the European Union have already risen by 8.4 percent during the first quarter of this year.

Eurofer anticipated that there is worse to come as impacts of the tariffs of the US take hold, warning that the imports into the European Union could surge by as much as 30 percent in 2018.

At a press conference, Van Poelvoorde stated: “This will be detrimental to the European steel industry, for jobs and the plants.”

He added: “It is clear that if we do not stop this tsunami we will just be slaughtered.”

While speaking with the members later, he cautioned: “If the US measures remain in place without modification from their present state, we could see job losses in the tens of thousands in the steel industry in Europe, as well as losses in the supply chains that service the sector.”

Van Poelvoorde, however, noted that the European Union would not suffer alone.

While the steel industry of the United States may reap benefits from the tariffs, a study predicted that there would 146,000 job cuts in the rest of the economy as higher prices of steel pushed up the costs.

There will also be a price to pay from the tariffs that the European Union has imposed on a diverse array of 182 products from the US that are popular in Europe, which range from bourbon whiskey to jeans and motorcycles.

Leaders of the European Union have also promised to safeguard the producers in Europe by stopping excess imports of steel.

Supporting the measures of the EU, Van Poelvoorde stated: “The only thing we can do now is to defend ourselves and put the pressure back on the US to get them around the negotiating table.”