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Euratex report: “Brexit has been a lose-lose deal for the textile industry”

By Simone Preuss


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Image: Euratex

The European Apparel and Textile Confederation Euratex has looked at the latest trade data from January to September 2021 and found a “dramatic drop” of imports and exports of textile goods between the EU and UK, with exports falling by 44 percent to almost 2 billion euros and exports by 22 percent, corresponding to 1.6 billion euros. This means significant losses for companies on both sides.

“The situation is likely to get worse, as the full customs regime between UK and EU has entered into force on 1 January 2022,” warns the Confederation. Thus, Euratex calls on the European Union and the United Kingdom to effectively cooperate to remove the issues in the EU-UK trade agreement that prevent smooth trade flows.  

Billion euro losses on UK and EU side

The most impacted EU countries on the export side are Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany according to the data, while on the import side, the most impacted countries are Germany, Ireland and France.

Among the textile and clothing sectors, clothing articles are facing the most severe drop in both imports and exports, corresponding to a total trade loss of more than 3.4 billion euros over the nine months period. “Despite these alarming figures, the UK continues to be the most important export market for EU textiles and clothing,” states Euratex. 

On the UK side, things are not looking any better: According to a survey by the UK Fashion and Textile Association’s (UKFT) in May 2021 among 138 businesses, including leading UK fashion brands, UK textile manufacturers, wholesalers, fashion agencies, garment manufacturers and retailers, most of them were negatively impacted by the new Brexit trade conditions.

Increased trade costs will ultimately be passed on to consumers

The results of the survey showed that 71 percent of the participating businesses currently rely on imports from the EU and almost all (92 percent) are experiencing increased freight costs  as well as increased costs and bureaucracy for customs clearance (83 percent).

In addition, more than half (53 percent) of the 138 businesses surveyed are experiencing cancelled orders as a result of how the EU-UK agreement is being implemented and 41 percent have been hit by double duties.

In the end, it will be the consumers who will have to front as the bill as the vast majority of the surveyed companies declared that they are looking to pass the increased costs on to consumer in the next  six to twelve months.