The Welsh Government has backed the steel industry by signing up to a new charter.

Welsh Economy and Transport Minister, Ken Skates, met with representatives of the steel industry on Thursday at Tata Steel’s Shotton works for the Welsh Government’s official signing of the UK Steel Charter.

The Welsh Government has become the first official signatory of the new initiative aimed at boosting the levels of UK produced steel used in UK construction and infrastructure projects.

With just over half of all the steel used in Welsh, English and Scottish construction projects currently coming from abroad, the potential to purchase more steel from Welsh producers - and those elsewhere in the UK - is significant and would boost steel production, support steel jobs and communities, and increase GDP in Wales and across the UK.

The UK Steel Charter, building upon existing Welsh Government policy in this area, asks organisations such as Welsh Government, Whitehall departments, and major infrastructure projects to sign up and commit to a range of simple procurement steps.

These steps could transform the way we purchase steel and other materials, ensuring decisions aren’t simply made on the basis of ‘lowest upfront cost’, but take into account longer term strategic aims such as social and environmental considerations, and Wales’s long-term economic growth.

Gareth Stace, UK Steel Director General, said: “I am incredibly pleased that the Welsh Government has become the first committed signatory to the UK Steel Charter.

"With over half of the UK’s steel production taking place in Wales, today’s commitment from the Welsh Government once again symbolises and solidifies its commitment to our industry, one that remains the beating heart of the Welsh economy."

The public sector, including the Welsh Government, is the single biggest purchaser of steel in the UK.

UK Government alone will purchase some £2.5 billion worth of steel in the next five years with significant additional volumes also being procurement by the Welsh Government, other devolved administrations, local authorities and massive private sector projects like Heathrow, Hinkley C and offshore windfarms.

Public procurement is a hugely significant policy tool and government intervention into the economy – the UK Steel Charter will help to harness this power for the good of UK manufacturing, jobs and GDP.

As part of its commitment to the UK Steel Charter the Welsh Government has committed to develop a pipeline of future steel requirements in Wales, require the origin of all steel used in future Welsh Government projects to be provided and advertise clearly all future opportunities for the supply of steel in Wales, among other commitments.

Welsh Economy and Transport Minister, Ken Skates, said: “This Steel Charter further demonstrates our commitment to the industry.

"It is a well thought out, workable commitment from us as both supporters and procurers of Welsh steel, providing some much needed certainty to the industry here and ensuring our projects benefit from the use of high quality, British steel wherever possible.

“The charter fully compliments our 2018 Procurement Advice Note supporting the sourcing of steel and, as we look to help further future proof the production of steel here, I call on Governments and public sector procurers from across the UK to look closely at how they too could play their part in ensuing we step up our support for the British steel industry.”

Deirdre Fox, director strategic business development, Tata Steel, and Chair of UK Steel Procurement Committee said: “Tata Steel is proud to be part of the UK Steel charter initiative and enormously pleased that Welsh Government is its first partner.

"We employ over 6,500 people in Wales and many thousands more in our supply chains – so it is only fitting that the Government in Wales was the first to step forward and make this hugely positive commitment encouraging others to do the same."