UK fashion and textile exports are facing ongoing tariffs in the United States, affecting seventeen product lines. These tariffs were initially implemented in October 2019 due to a dispute between the US and the EU regarding aircraft industry subsidies. Sweaters, apparel, blankets, and bed linen are among the products being hit by these additional tariffs, causing concern and disappointment among industry figures.

Adam Mansell, the CEO of the UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT), expressed his disappointment and stated that the impact of these tariffs has been devastating for UK manufacturers selling to the US. He highlighted that the UK is the only country facing fashion product tariffs, adding additional strain to companies already dealing with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and uncertain trading conditions with the EU. Mansell urged the government to take immediate action to support the manufacturing industry.

Simon Cotton, CEO of Johnstons of Elgin, expressed frustration as these tariffs are significantly impacting their industry despite being out of their control. Johnstons of Elgin is known for its cashmere and fine woollen cloth, knitwear, and accessories in Scotland. Bill Leach, global sales director at John Smedley, a knitwear brand and manufacturer, also expressed disappointment and concern. Leach explained that John Smedley has invested heavily in the US market, resulting in strong sales and partnerships. However, the retaliatory tariffs have forced the company to absorb additional costs to maintain retail prices and valuable relationships with US customers and clients. Leach emphasized the unfairness of British-manufactured knitwear being caught up in the longest-running trade dispute in the history of the World Trade Organization (WTO), warning that tough decisions may need to be made regarding the company’s US market strategy if the tariffs continue.

It is crucial to note that these tariffs specifically target UK-manufactured products and affect various HTS Codes. The UKFT has reached out to Liz Truss, the Secretary of State for International Trade, requesting a meeting and urging for a swift resolution to the dispute. They assert that the fashion and textile industry in the UK should not be penalized for a matter unrelated to their sector.

The imposition of ongoing tariffs on UK fashion and textile exports to the US is a significant blow to the already struggling industry. With the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainties surrounding Brexit, urgent government action is needed to support UK manufacturers and resolve the dispute with the US.

Useful Links:
2. Department for International Trade