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Paul Farrelly joined Stoke MPs’ calls
for a committed government strategy to support ceramics in House of Commons debate.
Hall was the venue for the latest debate over ceramics in the Commons yesterday
when North Staffordshire MPs pressed the government not to ignore the industry,
when negotiating over carbon taxes, climate change measures, support for
steel-makers and further trade agreements with China.
discussion, secured by Stoke Central’s MP Tristram Hunt, was at the request of
the British Ceramics Confederation, which has been pressing the government to
be more responsive to the industry’s concerns in various international negotiations
sector employs 20,000 people in all, with annual sales of £2 billion, and
exports of £500 million. Like steel, it is a so-called ‘energy intensive
industry’, subject to European Union agreements over climate change emissions.
of course, we are all concerned about the future of the steel industry, it is
very important in our discussions with Brussels that the ceramics industry is
not disregarded or harmed’, Mr Farrelly said.
well as taking into account dumping of ceramics by China at lower-than-production
prices, Newcastle’s MP also said the UK and EU should still be concerned about
copying and counterfeiting; and should look afresh at ‘origin marking’ – so
‘Made in Staffordshire’ really means ‘Made in Staffordshire’ – to help the
companies such as Doulton and Wedgwood have found themselves in a position
where, weeks after producing new designs, professional salesmen from Chinese
industrial complexes are going around Europe with portfolios of copies of their
designs marketed at a third or a quarter of the price,’ Mr Farrelly said.
Anna Soubry - the Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise -
conceded that more work needed to be done on misleading marking on ceramics
debate took place in the midst of an ongoing debate between the UK and the EU
on whether China should be granted so-called ‘Market Economy Status’, a move
that might have widespread implications
on the UK ceramics sector, as well as steel.
Minister disagreed, however, that this would prevent meaningful anti-dumping
measures against unfair Chinese exports and that the UK could still impose
tariffs in retaliation.
Staffordshire MPs have been pressing for a mandatory ‘mark of origin’ for
ceramics for 20 years, on product safety grounds, too, and the move is supported
by the industry right across Europe. The last push came before the 2015
election, but the UK government – influenced by cheap importers – has always
blocked the measure from progressing.