Tata Steel’s woes are just the tip of the iceberg

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Days after staff from Tata Steel boarded a bus to Edinburgh to attend a Holyrood debate on the future of the Scottish steel industry, the world’s biggest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal, has announced crippling profits for the third quarter.

ArcelorMittal stated on Friday it had suffered a £465 million ($700 million) loss in the months of July until the end of September. The figures are somewhat replicated by Tata, who cut the value of its UK business by £862 million ($1.3 billion).

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Tata, however, did announce pre-tax profits of £302 million for Q3. Despite its £24 million underlying loss in Europe, the company made a £475 million underlying profit in India, where it takes around 30% of its revenue.

Both ArcelorMittal and Tata have placed the blame for poor profits on the flood of cheap steel being made in China, the world’s biggest steel manufacturer.

China now produced 822.7 million tons of steel in 2014. Japan, the second-largest producer, made 110.7 million tons.

Today, workers from the Tata plants in Scotland marched through Motherwell, with around 300 turning-out for the rally.

Local SNP MP Marion Fellow stated there was still more the UK Government could do to tackle China’s “dumping” of cheap steel, and added: “The feeling at the Scottish government task force was very positive.”

“No-one is looking yet at trying to say this place is finished. They are really trying very hard to find a buyer and to make it more sustainable for the future.”

The Scottish Government has made clear it would prefer to find a buyer for the plants, but said the option of public ownership is still on the table.

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