For steel, read chemicals

Retiring Welsh economy minister Edwina Hart has a difficult last month in office trying to sort out the Tata mess and will perforce be leaving her successor an unenviable portfolio. My assessment of her record in office – she has been in every Welsh cabinet in a variety of posts from health to finance to economy since 1999 – appeared in the latest edition of Agenda, the magazine of the Institute of Welsh Affairs and can be found at

Surprisingly no link has been made by commentators between what has happened at steel with the similar fate a decade back of the British chemical industry. Remember ICI?  A company that went from being Britain’s biggest to complete disembowelment in a matter of years. Or for that matter Courtaulds, Fisons, Albright & Wilson et al. Britain was still among the top ten world producers of chemical products in 2014 but only just – at number nine just ahead of Italy. China is now responsible for nearly half world chemical output by value, well ahead of the US on 21 per cent. The UK industry is now little more than half the assize of that of South Korea with only wo per cent of output by value.