Tata Steel boss hits out at countries which are distorting the industry

Steel giants Tata Steel have announced their latest trading results - and taken a swipe at the surge in cheap imports which has rocked its UK market.

The company, with mills in Brenda Road in Hartlepool, reported a surprise 22 per cent rise in net profit for the second quarter of the year in its businesses across the world.

But the European picture was not so rosy and the quarterly report highlighted how Tata Steel in the UK was “facing a structurally challenging environment of weak domestic manufacturing demand, surging imports, a strong pound and steep regulatory and business costs.”

It led to Dr Karl-Ulrich Kohler, the chief executive of Tata Steel in Europe, said: “Across Europe we are calling on governments to ensure the European Commission upholds international trade rules firmly and more speedily. Surging volumes of dumped imports, including from countries that subsidise their steelmakers, are massively distorting competition.”

But undaunted Tata Steel said it would not let the challenging marketplace divert it from its objective of developing higher-value products which give them a competitive edge.

Dr Kohler added: “Our operating result has turned negative this year, reflecting the huge challenges the global steel industry is facing. In the UK these issues have been compounded by unhelpful exchange rates and regulatory costs that are destroying competitiveness.

“We have made three restructuring announcements in the UK since July leading to reduced volume and costs. We are working with the UK government to urgently secure a more competitive trade and regulatory environment and we will support our employees affected by restructuring.”

Just last month, Tata Steel confirmed around 900 jobs would be cut from the firm’s giant plant in Scunthorpe, with 270 in Scotland and a small number in other sites.

Koushik Chatterjee, Tata Steel’s Group Executive Director (Finance and Corporate), said: “The underlying operating performance of the Tata Steel Group in this quarter has been impacted by weak economic environment, relative currency movements and a surge in imports in key geographies such as the UK, India and Europe.

“In these challenging times, we have continued our efforts to strengthen our operations, widen and deepen the marketing franchise and manage the balance sheet effectively.”

He said the business in the UK “faces significant structural headwinds that witnessed rapid deteoriation in the market prices in the last few months due to surge in imports.. This has compelled us to continue to restructure the business and as a consequence take very significant impairment in the asset value of Tata Steel UK and provide for further restructuring costs.”