A West Midland-based trade association has joined a national alliance fighting to protect Britain's manufacturing sector from unfair competition in the post-Brexit era.
The Aluminium Federation (ALFED) believes membership of the Manufacturing Trade Remedies Alliance (MTRA) will strengthen the latter's campaigning efforts.
ALFED chief executive Tom Jones says his 150+ members range from Birmingham-based Arconic Manufacturing, which supplies the world's defence and aerospace giants, and automotive specialist Gestamp, which exports to 23 countries, to local enterprises employing 20 skilled staff.
“Aluminium is affordable, easily recycled and an integral element of the sustainable economy. As the UK voice of this sector, which employs 20,000 and generates £10 billion a year, we help members become more productive, identify trade and research opportunities, and lobby government on their behalf,” he says.
“In the last year, we had more than 100 people on our technical training courses, held 300 meetings, conference calls and virtual sessions between members, politicians, and senior civil servants. We also have weekly calls with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
“However, the fight to achieve a level playing field is taking place at international level, and it makes strategic sense to support the alliance in its campaign.”
The MTRA is a coalition of trade associations and trade unions involved in manufacturing, formed three years ago because, like ALFED, it believes that making things is good for the UK's economy and its society.
Passing references to a 'level playing field' are made frequently during news programmes and discussions about the post-Brexit economy, but Jones says the topic needs a much more intense focus, particularly with regard to the aluminium sector and the UK's wider industrial base.
“At its simplest, it means that British companies should not be disadvantaged by the unfair trading practices of overseas companies, or governments acting in tandem with their domestic producers,” he says.
“If imports are dumped at below market or subsidised prices, they will cause irreparable damage to our economy, and lead to the direct destruction of thousands of manufacturing jobs, and many more in supply chains.
“Until now, the UK has benefited from trade remedies which aim to create a level playing field across the EU, but now it's up to the government and its Trade Remedies Investigation Directorate to decide what new measures are needed.
“Our manufacturers can compete internationally and succeed, but must be protected against unfair import practices, and the aim of MITRA and ourselves is to ensure that the new remedies are robust and efficient.”