Steel imports from China could be hit with fresh trade duties by the EU, according to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. Mr Juncker said the commission was investigating China’s largely state-backed steel industry, which European producers say is one of the major causes for the crisis in the British steel sector.
China is accused of dumping subsidised steel on foreign export markets at prices with which European producers are unable to compete.
The situation was highlighted by Chinese economic data, showing that in March, exports of steel from China were 30pc higher than a year ago.
Duties on imports can only be introduced at an EU-wide level, and Brussels has been attacked by steelmakers for the low level of tariffs imposed and delays in putting them in place.
However, an argument has also broken out with the industry criticising UK politicians for blocking moves to introduce a more punishing EU regime of import tariffs, and to discard the current “lesser duty rule” which results in only small levies.