Exporters of knitwear from the UK to the US face continuing punitive tariffs


The United States authorities announced on Wednesday that 17 apparel and textile product lines will continue to be hit with an additional tariff of 25 percent, says the UK Apparel & Textile Association (UKFT). The tariffs were first imposed as part of a long-running conflict between the US and the EU over subsidies to the aviation industry in October 2019, the organization said in a statement.

UKFT CEO Adam Mansell said: “This report is incredibly disappointing. The effect of the new tariffs on UK producers exporting to the US has been devastating. We are the only country to be hit with tariffs on fashion goods and the current situation puts much greater pressure on already struggling businesses from the effects of Covid-19 and the highly volatile trade situation with the EU. It’s not enough to wait for the results of a proposed free trade deal with the US. We need the government to act actively now to help our manufacturing sector.

Simon Cotton is the CEO of Elgin’s Johnstons, which in Scotland produces cashmere and fine woolen fabric, knitwear, and accessories. He said: “We are particularly disappointed that those tariffs remain in place and continue to punish our industry for a conflict that is entirely beyond our control.”

Bill Leach, Director of Global Sales at knitwear company and producer John Smedley, said: “This is highly disappointing. Over several years, John Smedley has invested heavily in the US market, delivering high profits and consumer loyalty to a wide variety of America ‘s finest retailers. We also enjoy good follow-up from around the US on social media and are incredibly proud of the excellent working relationships that we have established over decades with consumers, customers, and media.

“Since October 2019, when the retaliatory additional 25% tariff was applied to all of our sales to the US, John Smedley has been forced to absorb this punitive cost in order to maintain the ongoing retail pricing of our collection and to maintain our existing proposition to our valued customers and clients in the US market. As a result, we have experienced significant margin and profit.

“The fact that British-manufactured knitwear has become embroiled in the longest running trade dispute in WTO history to this extent is deeply irritating, unfairly punitive and continues to have a deep and long-lasting impact on our business in the UK. Our connections to and with the airline industry are non-existent.”

“Should this retaliatory tariff application continue, John Smedley will need to take some tough decisions about our strategy for the US market.”