Steel Talks 'Constructive' But No Deal Agreed

Sajid Javid says China has agreed to act over the steel crisis but ministers fail to agree measures to tackle oversupply

A Brussels steel summit has agreed on the need to tackle oversupply that is crippling the industry but failed to agree measures to tackle the crisis.

Business secretary Sajid Javid gave a positive verdict on the talks, saying China - largely blamed for the problems - had committed to deal with its overcapacity of steel production.

Mr Javid said the summit in Brussels with major steel-producing countries including China had been "constructive", though he admitted there was unlikely to be an "overnight solution" to its overproduction.

The UK steel industry has shed thousands of jobs in recent months with the future of 15,000 more under threat after India's Tata put its British sites - including Port Talbot in south Wales - up for sale.

Its problems have largely been blamed on a flood of cheap Chinese steel.

Photo : Steel Talks 'Constructive' But No Deal Agreed

Steel Crisis

Photo : Steel Talks 'Constructive' But No Deal Agreed

Steel Crisis

Play video "China's Steel Industry In Numbers"

Video: China's Steel Industry In Numbers

Mr Javid said the Chinese "have absolutely recognised that it is a problem of overcapacity in their country".

He added: "They're committing to do something about it and I think that's a very positive step forward."

But China's assistant commerce minister, Zhang Ji, countered accusations that Beijing subsidises steel exporters, saying it had cut 90 million tonnes of capacity and had plans to reduce it by a further 100-150 million tonnes.

Gareth Stace, director of industry body UK Steel, said: “What we needed to see at today’s meeting was an agreement by national governments to take short term, detailed actions to help address the steel sector crisis.

"However, having agreed what the problems are we appear to be no closer to finding international action to put in place solutions."

There were signs elsewhere that China was unwilling to budge.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua said blaming the steel crisis in the UK on Chinese dumping was "just a lame and lazy excuse for protectionism".

"Blaming other countries is always an easy, sure-fire way for politicians to whip up a storm over domestic economic woes, but finger-pointing and protectionism are counter-productive."

Meanwhile, Tata Steel UK has appointed the man who oversaw the sale of its Scunthorpe business to Greybull Capital last week as chief executive.

Bimlendra Jha takes over as the company looks for a buyer, and a way to save as many jobs as possible as it quits UK operations.