How to preserve €16.2 billion worth of textile/apparel trade after Brexit?
The UK is the third-largest European outlet for EU commercial exchanges in textile and clothing, and Euratex, the European Apparel and Textile Confederation, has drawn up seven proposals to preserve the EU-UK textile trade, which was worth €16.2 billion in the period 2014-2016.
The European textile industry's representative body, in a document addressed to the elected representatives of both parties concerned,, listed a series of measures designed to guarantee a smooth post-Brexit transition and a smaller negative impact in the longer term. The first proposal is concerned with avoiding any kind of legal uncertainty, by adopting a transitional agreement effective from 29th March 2019, the deadline for the end of the EU-UK Brexit negotiations. The second proposal follows the same logic, and concerns the adoption of clear rules for the implementation of the future EU-UK trade agreement.
Unsurprisingly, Euratex called for avoiding heavy customs duties, for deploying a deal to protect cross-Channel trade and investment, and for looking ahead so as to minimise the impact of the normative differences which will inevitably arise after Brexit. The confederation also asked that the UK continue working with CEN, the European Committee for Standardization, to coordinate regulations across European countries.
Euratex's last point concerns the issue of product origin. According to the organisation, it is a "sensitive issue", and any EU-UK agreement "ought to benefit the [EU and UK] textile and apparel industries, and not any third party negotiating free trade agreements with either the EU or the UK separately."
Last year, the EU's 27 member states imported €1.6 billion worth of British women's apparel, the main textile product category in terms of EU-UK textile trade. As for the UK, in the same period it imported €2.5 billion worth of clothing manufactured on the Continent.
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