Threats of huge increases in US import taxes will price much-loved British ceramics out of the market, bosses have warned.
Plans for up to 100% tariffs on a wide range of EU goods have been announced as part of the a long-running dispute over EU state support for Airbus.
The long list of ‘symbolic’ products like champagne and Roquefort cheese, has been drawn up by the Trump administration to hit back at countries like France, Spain and the UK, taking effect as soon as the Summer.
But the inclusion of some British ceramics has left many baffled and alarmed.
Laura Cohen, Chief Executive of the British Ceramic Confederation, said: “In 2018, more than £12m worth of British ceramic earthenware, tableware and giftware products were exported to America. Making these products 100% more expensive would only benefit our Chinese competitors.
“There are only a few American craft potters making these products, and they do not compete in the same market as British brands.
“The duties will hurt American shoppers, restaurants, hotels and retailers, at the same time as souring Anglo-American relations.”
The US is likely to impose these duties on British ceramics whatever the outcome of Brexit, as there are more than 20 Airbus sites in the UK, the original rationale for the move.
Laura Cohen added: “American consumers have been buying high quality and world-renowned British ceramics for centuries.
“These duties will make some much-loved British ceramics prohibitively expensive and force wholesalers and retailers to seek alternatives.”
Norman Tempest (pictured) is managing director of one of the oldest pottery factories in Stoke-on-Trent, Royal Stafford. He said: “Exporting to America has always been an important part of our business, but these tariffs will push our products completely out of reach for American consumers.
“The ‘Made in England’ backstamp is part of the appeal, but our designs are the real selling point.
“The unique holiday merchandise we make for the Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas celebrations are best sellers.
“This absurd trade war will limit consumer choice for Americans and damage a historic and mutually beneficial trading relationship.”
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.
For further information please contact:
Ciara Jagger, Communications Manager, British Ceramic Confederation, Federation House, Station Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 2SA.