The UKFT (UK Fashion and Textiles Association) welcomes the UK’s free trade agreement with the EU, stating that the deal has helped secure £7.4 billion of fashion and textiles sold from the UK to the EU annually.
The EU is the UK fashion and textiles industry’s biggest market. UKFT says that the deal will also consolidate thousands of jobs and hundreds of companies across the country.
“However, while the deal is extremely welcome and provides some clarity, there is still much that companies need to do, as the trading environment with the EU will be very different even with this deal.
UKFT urges the government to actively help the sector meet the challenges it will face in the immediate future and to invest in the long-term future of the industry in the UK,” stated UKFT in a press release.
UKFT chairman, Nigel Lugg asserted that “UKFT will be working with its members to help the industry maintain and grow its exports to the EU and the rest of the world.”
It is important to note that red tape and customs declarations will also impact logistics. The Fashion Roundtable says that the British fashion industry- worth £35 billion- will suffer from the absence of EU garment workers and entrepreneurs.
The scrapping of VAT for international buyers also raises some concern, which restricts visitors from claiming back the 20 per cent tax unless they send purchases home. This initiative is still subject to judicial review, however.
The UK is currently negotiating with the US over a Free Trade Agreement, which could result in the reduction of a 25 per cent tax on British wool, cashmere and Saville Row suits.
The recent news of the vaccine rollout also offers some hope for the future.
Helen Brocklebank, CEO of British luxury trade group Walpole, states: “we have vaccines, but the additional frictions of Brexit and the amount of uncertainty for what that will bring is high,” she says.