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"Mountains" of used clothing building up as Brexit stalls EU exports

Gaelle Walker
03 February 2021

“Mountains” of second-hand clothing are piling up in the north-east of England after new Brexit complications have forced one of the UK’s biggest exporters of second-hand clothing to halt exports after falling foul of the new ‘rules of origin’ requirements, it is being reported.

Exports to the EU from ECS Textiles in North Shields have “ground to a halt” due to border delays, piles of paperwork and confusion over the new rules of origin requirements, with one container stuck in the port of the Latvian capital, Riga, incurring charges and threatened with import tariffs usually reserved for Chinese goods, The Guardian said.

ECS, which exports a high proportion of goods originally produced in China, has fallen foul of the new rules of origin requirements, with authorities in Latvia now threatening to charge 5.3% tariffs – or border taxes.

ECS Textiles sales manager James Officer told The Guardian that the backlogs meant its warehouse was full to the brim with donated clothing that could not be shipped.

“We’re at capacity. It could essentially close the business because we have no more physical room and it’s a really big worry.

We’ve got containers sat in port, we’re paying standing charges, our customers can’t have their goods, and we’re not being paid. The business has ground to a halt,” he said.

The work ECS does to sort and grade the items it exports should allow it to qualify as British, Officer said.

However, although ECS has had support from the local chamber of commerce, the UK government has not helped it to obtain a rule of origin certificate to let it keep trading with the EU, he added.

Read more about the Brexit impact on fashion exporters here

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