2 JANUARY 1932, Page 7

Steel Under Protection

Figures just published in Paris have an instructive bearing on the demand of the iron and steel industries for protection in this country. In protected France production in November, 1931 was 175,000 tons below the figure for November, 1930—a drop of 25 per cent. Exports of high quality steel haye fallen steadily from 376,000 tons a month in 1927 to 263,000 a month to-day, one explana- tion proffered being that the trade has suffered through the competition of unprotected Britain in common markets. Clearly protection will not work the necessary miracle. Re-organization offers better hopes than that. But the French figures, showing a heavy slump in home demand too, emphasize the real need of the moment, the expansion of trade generally. When the root of the trouble is contraction of demand everywhere, coupled with the intense competition due to the artificial stimulus of German exports to meet reparation payments, pro- tection is the last remedy to turn to, not the first. Mr. Runciman's wisdom has nowhere been better demon- strated than in his refusal to take shortsighted views in

this matter. * * * *