Tata Steel today welcomed the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon George Osborne MP, to its steel plant at Port Talbot in South Wales.
The Chancellor toured key parts of the plant and met steelworkers who operate Europe’s newest blast furnace – the No 4 furnace that was rebuilt last year as part of almost £250 million of investment in the plant. Port Talbot is one of the UK’s key foundation industries sites, producing a wide variety of sheet steel products and supporting a large number of the UK’s manufacturing supply chains as well as the construction industry. Britain’s foundation industries employ half a million people and are responsible for 30% of UK exports.
The Chancellor also visited Port Talbot’s Continuous Annealing Process Line, which makes heat treated cold rolled sheet in technically sophisticated specifications, including advanced high-strength steels that serve modern manufacturing sectors such as the automotive industry.
Welcoming the Chancellor, Karl Koehler, Chief Executive of Tata Steel’s European operations, said: “The measures announced in the Budget to introduce relief against the rapidly rising costs of energy taxes, which pose a very real risk to Britain's foundation industries, are extremely welcome. The Government has listened to the concerns of the foundation industries by introducing a limit on these costs – particularly the Renewables Obligation – after they have peaked over the next two years.
“These measures are a clear and meaningful contribution to forging a more competitive and sustainable future for our UK steelmaking sites, which employ 18,000 people directly and several times that number indirectly. Such a contribution is vital in the face of European demand that remains well below pre-crisis levels. We will seek to work closely with the Government to secure EU approval for the measures quickly so that we can feel the impact of last week’s announcements as soon as possible.”
The Chancellor said: “I want Britain to manufacture things so we build a resilient economy. So, listening to industry, at the Budget I announced a package to cut the cost of manufacturing, with particular support for our energy intensive industries worth £7 billion. I want to ensure our manufacturers are not priced out of international competition. I also want to give assurance to companies like Tata Steel and the 18,000 people working for them that this Government is on the side of the makers. Which is why I'm pleased that Tata Steel has welcomed the support in Budget – which they believe will help secure the competitive future of UK steelmaking.”
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About Tata Steel’s European operations
The European operations of Tata Steel, whose main steelmaking sites are in the UK and the Netherlands, comprise Europe's second largest steel producer. They supply steel and related services to construction, automotive, packaging, rail, lifting & excavating, energy & power, aerospace and other demanding markets worldwide. The combined Tata Steel group is one of the world’s largest steel producers, with an aggregate crude steel capacity of more than 29 million tonnes and approximately 80,000 employees across four continents.