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British businesses to be hit by 25% US tariffs

Exports of certain clothing and textile items from the UK to US, including Savile Row suits, will be subject to 25% tariffs from 18 October.

The World Trade Organization ruled on Wednesday that the US could impose tariffs on $7.5bn (£6bn) of European goods.

Clothing and textiles exported from the UK affected by the decision include wool, cotton and cashmere sweaters; windbreakers and jackets; men’s and boys suits; women’s and girls’ pyjamas; women’s and girls’ swimwear; blankets; and bed linen.

Other products on the tariff list include aircraft, Scottish whisky and butter.

Adam Mansell, CEO of UKFT, has called on both sides to resolve the 15-year old trade dispute as quickly as possible.

“At a time when the industry is facing huge uncertainty over the impact of Brexit, it is devastating that one of our key non-EU markets has imposed such significant tariffs on products that have nothing to do with the aircraft dispute,” said Mansell. “Some of our leading manufacturers will be hit by theses punitive tariffs and that will undoubtedly affect jobs and investment.”

Simon Cotton, chief executive of Johnstons of Elgin, the largest manufacturer cashmere knitwear in the UK, and a board member of UKFT, said these tariffs will have a significant impact on the UK knitwear industry.

“The US is our third largest export market behind Europe and Japan,” he said. “This will have major impact on our knitwear business, as well as the whole of the UK knitwear industry. The US consumer has a great affinity with British high-quality knitwear and we urge all parties involved to come to an agreement quickly for the sake of British manufacturers and US consumers.”

UKFT is working closely with the Department for International Trade regarding the latest developments and will update its guidance in due course.

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