Philip Dunne regrets that the US has used national security as its excuse to introduce new tariffs on steel and aluminium imports when, ironically, there are a number of US-UK treaties under which UK makes specialist steel products to assist US national security and calls on the Government to secure an exemption for such products. He also raises concerns about the impact on Bridgnorth Aluminium of the increase in price due to the tariffs and about the displacement factor from incoming Chinese imports.
First, I applaud the Secretary of State for focusing in his statement on how unfortunate it is that the United States has used national security as its excuse for this tariff measure. It is particularly ironic given a number of US-UK treaties under which specialist steel products are made available to the United States specifically to assist in its national security. May I encourage him to look at securing a product exemption for those products as soon as possible?
Secondly, as the Secretary of State and his colleagues are aware, Bridgnorth Aluminium in my constituency is one of the largest aluminium manufacturers in this country; 20% of its exports go to the United States, as it provides a product that is not manufactured there. The United States is hurting itself with this measure. The company not only fears that the increase in price due to the tariffs on that product will have an impact on demand; it is also particularly concerned about the displacement factor from incoming Chinese imports.
My hon. Friend, who knows a great deal about this subject from his time as a Defence Minister, is absolutely right. We will be looking at the displacement issue very closely to see whether safeguards are required for aluminium as well as steel. He is right about Bridgnorth in his constituency, which exported £21 million of products to the US in 2017. The irony is that the only potential competitor in that particular market is Alcoa in Warrick, Indiana, which has shown little, if any, interest in it. This situation can only lead to damage to US customers at the other end.