Crude steel production in the UK has been in decline since 2014. At the end of 2019, Tata Steel shut down a plant in Wales, putting it up for sale. With over 8,000 employees in the UK, half of which based in Wales, the company has recently asked for financial help from the government to overcome the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of February 2020, the trade impact of COVID-19 was estimated to be around 135 million U.S. dollars for the UK metal industry.
While being predominantly a service economy, the manufacturing sector accounted for 18 percent of the UK’s gross domestic products as of 2018. Aluminum is particularly important for the automotive industry, as manufacturers have started to prefer lightweight materials over heavier steel.