The future of the UK ceramics industry’s protections against unfair imports after Brexit have been debated in Parliament.
MPs discussed the importance of anti-dumping measures and the ability of the UK Trade Remedies Authority to establish a level playing field for imports and exports.
Dr Laura Cohen, Chief Executive of the British Ceramic Confederation (BCC) and Chair of the Manufacturing Trade Remedies Alliance (MTRA) said: “We have been raising the profile of this critical issue and its importance for UK manufacturing businesses and jobs for some time.
“Our Alliance members are keen to make a success of Brexit. We welcome that there will be an independent UK Trade Remedies Authority.
“However, we need some changes to the ‘Customs Bill’ to ensure there is a level playing field where overseas manufacturers aren’t playing by the rules. Free trade must not be a free for all.”
Current trade rules, under the EU, have served the ceramics sector well against dumping by countries like China and Russia which operated state-distorted economies.
Ten years ago, huge volumes of excessively cheap imports of ceramic tiles, giftware and tableware from China resulted in the EU imposing new rules, to correct the pricing. As a result of this ‘level-playing field’, employment in ceramic manufacturing in the UK has increased.
Speaking at the debate in Westminster Hall, Greg Hands, Minister of State for Trade and Investment thanked the BCC and the MTRA for raising the issue and said: “The ceramics industry is a huge UK success story.
“This Government is a firm believer in free trade, but free trade does not mean trade without rules.”
He explained the Trade Remedies Authority will be made up of people ‘with expertise in the subject matter’ and said the anti-dumping rules will be set out in secondary legislation.
Stoke-on-Trent South MP Jack Brereton urged the Minister to support UK manufacturers.
He said: “Brexit is a great opportunity for us to be a leading independent force in the WTO, the champion of free and fair trade across the world.
“We want more of our world-class manufactured goods reaching global markets, and all of it underpinned by a sense of enforceable fair play.
“That is the Brexit that my constituents voted for, and that is direction I hope the minister will be pleased to travel.”
Notes to editors
The British Ceramic Confederation is the trade association for the UK ceramic manufacturing industry, representing the common and collective interests of all sectors of the industry. Its member companies cover the full spectrum of ceramic manufacturing, including the supply of materials, and comprise over 90% of the industry’s manufacturing capacity.
 Manufacturing Trade Remedies Alliance members: