Mar 5, 2021
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British luxury producers cheer US tariff suspension

Mar 5, 2021

The UK luxury industry has praised a move by the US government to suspend retaliatory tariffs of 25% imposed on a range of high-end products, including cashmere, wool, tailoring, and bedlinen, albeit for just four months.

Johnstons of Elgin

Luxury trade body Walpole, which represents more than 270 UK-based companies, joined in welcoming the joint announcement from the new US administration and the UK government.
Helen Brocklebank, Walpole CEO, said the news was “very welcome”.

“Globally famous brands like DunhillJohnstons of Elgin and Peter Reed have helped create a ‘jewel in the crown’ luxury sector that was growing at nearly 10% each year before the pandemic”, noting the luxury sector is worth an overall £48 billion to the UK economy. 

She added: “The impacts of the tariffs on British luxury businesses have been disproportionate and resulted from a dispute not of our sector’s making.

“This suspension is a very welcome relief and, hopefully, signals that our Government and the new US administration will break new ground with a speedy free-trade agreement. It’s imperative that both sides are now successful in reaching a negotiated settlement resulting in the permanent removal of the tariffs. A much-needed intervention as the British luxury sector recovers from the pandemic”.

Washington had previously raised the import tariff on certain high-end goods from Europe to 25%, hitting UK and EU luxury businesses hard in retaliation for subsidies paid to the manufacturer of the Airbus fleet of planes.

The suopension of the  tariffs, which had lasted 18 months, follow Britain’s decision to suspend retaliatory charges on US-made goods starting this year.

However, UK businesses are struggling to deal with rafts of import/export red tape following Brexit, while the luxury industry is maintaining its calls for the UK government to scrap the tax imposed on tourists buying high end goods. 

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