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Steel tariffs plan still on despite potential WTO breach, Boris Johnson tells G7

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theguardian.com

Boris Johnson has indicated he plans to retain and extend steel tariffs despite claims that this might put Britain in breach of World Trade Organization rules.Speaking at the G7 summit in Germany, the prime minister said he wanted to protect the British steel industry, and that the proposed protectionist measures would be in line with what other European countries were doing.The issue recently became linked to the controversy about Johnson’s ethical standards when Lord Geidt cited the proposed tariff policy in his letter announcing his resignation as the PM’s independent adviser on ministerial standards.In what was understood to be a reference to being asked to approve a tariff policy that would go against international legal obligations, Geidt said he had been put in an “impossible and odious position” and that, because he was being asked to sanction a breach of the ministerial code, he would have to quit.Why Geidt was asked to give advice on WTO tariff policy – which has not previously been a matter for the No 10 ethics adviser – has never been fully explained.Responding to reports that the government is to extend tariffs already imposed on steel imports from China, supplemented with further tariffs affecting imports from countries such as India and Turkey, Johnson said: “It’s very important people understand the context of this, and that is that the UK steel industry has been going through a difficult time, partly because of energy prices.“We have a system in the UK where we don’t privilege our industry in the way that some other countries do.“We need British Steel to be provided with much cheaper energy and cheap electricity for its blastfurnaces but until we can fix that, I think it is reasonable for UK steel to

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