Labour Donor Lobbies for U.S. Tariffs Against British Steel Producers (6 March 2002)
It seems that Labour donor Lakshmi Mittal, owner of LNM, the firm on whose behalf the Prime Minister wrote to the Romanian Prime Minister advocating that as a 'British' company (when in reality it is no such thing - it is registered in the Netherlands Antilles and employs less than 100 people in the United Kingdom) it should be allowed to buy the Romanian SIDEX steel plant, has also been lobbying the U.S. administration to impose import tariffs on foreign-produced steel (except that from NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico, alongwith certain developing countries), presumably in support of his U.S. steel interests.
So Mr Mittal gives £125,000 to the Labour Party and shortly thereafter Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair, writes in support of Mr Mittal's Romanian acquisition.
Mr Mittal also spends $600,000 lobbying the U.S. government to impose tariffs on steel imports into the United States. On 5th March, the Bush administration imposes tariffs of upto 30% on most of these steel imports; the tariffs range from 8 to 30% and take effect on 20 March and cover flat-rolled steel and other steel products from Europe and around the world.
Today (6th March) the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, announced his government's opposition to the imposition of the U.S. tariffs, advocated by his erstwhile donor, Mr Lakshmi Mittal, and suggested that retaliatory action by the European Union may be taken and that objections to the U.S. moves may be lodged with the World Trade Organisation - fine words, but the damage has been done. I hope that the U.K. steel-workers of South Wales and elsewhere will recall the events of the past few months when they are next called to vote in a General Election.
It is to be expected that Mr Mittal seeks to protect his interests, but it is incredible that he should be aided and abetted by a Prime Minister of the United Kingdom who, one might have imagined, would necessarily have the best interests of the United Kingdom in mind - it seems that this comfortable assumption can no longer be relied upon.
Copyright © 2002 William Cameron