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UKFT urges government to take direct action on US tariffs

Lauretta Roberts
17 October 2019

UKFT met with International Trade Secretary Liz Truss today to put forward the UK fashion and textile industry’s views on the US trade war, which will see significant tariffs put on products that have nothing to do with the aircraft dispute.

The retaliatory tariffs that the US is due to introduce tomorrow (18 October) mean that 17 fashion and textile product lines spanning jumpers made of wool, cashmere, cotton or manmade fibres, as well as women’s anoraks, men’s suits, pyjamas, swimwear, blankets and bed linen, attract an additional 25% duty. This is over and above the normal duties applied to these products.

The US tariffs were applied after the WTO found, in a dispute dating back to 2004, that both France-based Airbus and its US rival Boeing received billions of illegal state aid.

UKFT was joined by British manufacturers Johnstons of Elgin and John Smedley, alongside representatives from businesses which also have products impacted by the tariffs including aircraft, single malt whisky and biscuits.

Adam Mansell, CEO of UKFT, said: “Waiting for the outcome of a potential free trade agreement with the US isn’t enough. We need the government to take direct action now to support our manufacturing industry.

“Some companies will be facing tariffs of more than 40% on some products. At a time when the industry is facing huge uncertainty over the impact of Brexit, this is devastating.”

The International Trade Secretary said the government was taking the issue seriously, had raised it with the highest levels of the US administration and will continue to do so until the tariffs are dropped.

Truss said: “We are working closely with the US, EU and European partners to support a negotiated settlement to the Airbus and Boeing disputes.”

She suggested that a new UK-US Free Trade Agreement could provide an avenue to avoid future trade disputes and negotiating an FTA with the United States was one of the highest priorities of the Secretary of State.

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