British steelmakers pay twice as much for electricity as their French competitors and 50 percent more than their German rivals, an industry report showed on Wednesday, piling pressure on the sector as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.

The report, commissioned by industry group UK Steel, shows the disparity between UK electricity prices and those in EU countries has increased for a third consecutive year, crippling energy-intensive sectors such as steel.

It comes ahead of Britain’s looming EU exit on March 29, which could hit UK manufacturing hard if it results in widespread customs delays, new tariffs and other trade barriers with Britain’s largest trading partner.

“The price disparity continues to erode the industry’s ability to attract international investment – investments will instead be made in markets with more favourable conditions,” said Gareth Stace, UK Steel’s director general.

“It is high time the government ensured the future viability of the UK steel sector.”

The industry report shows the government’s review on industrial strategy and energy costs, launched a year ago, has yet to protect vulnerable industries from the effects of Britain’s looming EU exit.

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By Ian Dei

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