Simon Bailes Peugeot is urging Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to apply whatever pressure he can to ease restrictions on steel imports.
The appeal follows the European Commission’s decision to extend restrictions on steel imports into the EU by three years.
Simon Bailes says such a stance will negatively impact the automobile sector, which is already hampered by supply shortages.
He supports the stance taken by the European Automobile Manufacturers ‘Association (ACEA), which says the continuation of such measures ignores the needs of end steel users, such as car manufacturers.
The decision to extend current import restrictions comes at a time when European automakers already face acute shortages in both steel and microchips – resulting in a slowdown in manufacturing which require constant management of orders to avoid assembly line stoppages.
European car manufacturers source more than 90% of all their steel in the EU and since production restarted last summer there has been a serious shortage, causing a surge in steel prices.
Simon, who operates three dealerships in Stockton, Northallerton and Guisborough, said: “Whilst everyone, including the ACEA, recognises the need for European steel producers to compete, the current situation facing downstream steel users is due to a unique set of circumstances brought about by the pandemic.
“The EC’s extension of import restrictions has created a situation where EU steel producers are dictating prices and the market has become overheated.
“The Commission must allow manufacturers to relieve the acute shortages in steel by allowing non-EU imports of steel until the critical situation surrounding vehicle manufacturing returns to normal.
“Any lifting of restrictions would be a temporary measure and does not present a threat to EU steel producers. It would also support the automotive industry, which is itself critical to the EU economy, provides directly and indirectly 13.8 million jobs.
“I urge Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to keep the situation under review and apply whatever pressure he can in order to resolve this issue.”
The ACEA says that the EC is proposing an expansion of the quota for certain automotive grades of steel, the increase is so marginal that it will have no impact on supply or in reducing the inflationary effect created by the import restrictions.
Simon is advising customers looking to order a new car to do so immediately to minimise any delays within the production process.