British Steel Has to Be Considered in Public Projects, U.K. Says

The U.K. government for the first time will require the public sector to “specifically consider” domestic steel for infrastructure projects.

The directive is meant to help local steel companies compete with with international suppliers for major government contracts, including on about 300 billion pounds ($427 billion) of infrastructure projects planned over the next five years.

“By changing the procurement rules on these major infrastructure projects we are backing the future of U.K. steel -- opening up significant opportunities for U.K. suppliers and allowing them to compete more effectively with international companies,” said Business Secretary Sajid Javid in a statement.

The move adds to guidance issued in October obliging all central government departments to consider the “social and economic impact” of steel sourced for major projects.

The government also said it would establish a list of approved steel suppliers that meet certain criteria -- including health and safety, environmental impact and supply-chain management -- to ensure fair competition.

India’s Tata Steel said on March 29 it’s considering the sale of its loss-making U.K. division, which has been hit by cheap Chinese imports. The British government is trying to combat a crisis in the domestic industry that threatens as many as 40,000 jobs.

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