Port Talbot uncertainty could damage Wales automotive industry

Cardiff professor says UK’s uncertain steel industry is threatening the auto industry

 

Professor Garel Rhys, the chairman of the St Athan & Cardiff Airport Enterprise Zone and the Welsh Automotive Forum, has said that the insecure future of the Port Talbot and Llanwern steelworks could create a “dangerous domino effect” on other industries, including Wales’s blooming automotive industry.

The Port Talbot steelworks is the largest steel plant in the UK, but its future has been cast into uncertainty as its Indian owner, Tata Steel (part of the Tata Group), has announced it will be selling its UK businesses.

Port Talbot closure threatens Wales automotive industry

View of Port Talbot Steelworks

 

At present, the Port Talbot steelworks employs 5,500 workers, but Tata Steel also operates steelworks just down the road in Llanwern and also further afield in Rotherham, Corby and Shotton. In total 15,000 people are employed by Tata Steel in the UK.

According to reports, the Port Talbot business is running at a loss and is costing Tata Steel £1m per day.

Since the announcement, the UK government and industry figures have been working together in order to find a solution which will save the industry and the 15,000 workers, however, everything remains up in the air at the moment, as Tata Steel will not divulge its plans for the steelworks.

Professor Garel Rhys, of Cardiff University, has blamed the government for not supporting the UK steel industry during a difficult period when cheap steel from China has been flooding the market.

The professor is understandably concerned about the effect a Port Talbot and Llanwern closure would have on auto firms choosing to invest in Welsh production plants. He said: “If there is no Llanwern where does the UK motor industry obtain its sheet metal for use in its body plants? The logic is implacable.”

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