The UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT) assembled a meeting with senior civil servants last week to outline the practical issues that need to be addressed as the UK negotiates its exit from the European Union.
The group, which included retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Ted Baker and Primark, as well as traditional textiles and technical textile firms, manufacturers, importers and brands, presented the practical challenges facing the industry as Brexit looms.
“It was a mechanical meeting to thrash out the details of how we work and what would be the important components of a deal,” one attendee said. “They were looking at specific details, asking the right questions and there were a lot of common sense people in the room, which was encouraging.”
The meeting covered how processes and systems – such as the rules of origin that dictate which tariff rate applies, customs and the classification of textile apparel for import and export – will work in future.
The industry also underlined the importance of replicating the Generalised Scheme of Preferences agreement, which allows developing countries such as India and Bangladesh to pay fewer or no duties on exports to the EU, for the UK.
UKFT chief executive Adam Mansell stressed that the industry is “hugely concerned” that the clock is ticking on negotiations for the UK to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019 and about the lack of detail on how the two sides will work together afterwards.
”It was a very positive meeting and we were reassured that the civil servants understand the complexities of the clothing and textile industry.They are very keen to hear the views of the industry to make sure that issues are addressed.
“It is incredibly important that we get clarity as soon as possible.”
It comes as Brexit secretary Dominic Raab visited AW Hainsworth textile mills in Pudsey, Leeds, on Monday to set out the Brexit plans to “maintain frictionless trade with the EU, and grasp opportunities to trade globally”.