Latest trade data for the first 3 quarters of 2021 (Jan.-Sept. 2021) show a dramatic drop of imports and exports of textile goods between the EU and the UK, with significant losses for companies on both sides. The situation is likely to get worse, as the full customs regime between the UK and the EU has entered into force on January 1, 2022. The European Apparel and Textile Confederation (Euratex), Brussels/Belgium, has called on the European Union (EU) and the UK to effectively cooperate to remove the issues in the EU-UK Trade agreement that prevent smooth trade flows.
All the sectors have been already suffering a significant loss in the past year. Compared to the same period in 2020, the EU recorded a dramatic fall in imports (-44%, corresponding to almost €2 billion) and in exports (-22%, corresponding to €1.6 billion). The data show that the most impacted EU countries on the export side are Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany while on the import side are Germany, Ireland and France. Among the textile and apparel 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 over the 9-month period. Despite these alarming figures, the UK continues to be the most important export market for EU textiles and clothing.
Concerning the impact on the UK textiles sector, in May 2021 the UK Fashion and Textile Association’s (UKFT) surveyed 138 businesses, including leading UK fashion brands, UK textile manufacturers, wholesalers, fashion agencies, garment manufacturers and retailers. The results of the survey showed, among other things, that 71% currently rely on imports from the EU and 41% had been hit by double duties.