Government’s announcement to introduce zero tariffs in the event of a no-deal Brexit, has shocked many in the ceramic manufacturing sector.
The move comes following months of campaigning and lobbying by the British Ceramic Confederation, in an attempt to convince officials and politicians of the threat this poses to the sector.
Some concessions have been made, but they do not come near the current levels of products with import tariffs.
Unfortunately, there’s been no official consultation or assessment and industry leaders are reeling from the lack of engagement.
Laura Cohen, Chief Executive of the British Ceramic Confederation said: “We are shocked and alarmed by the announcements this morning on zero tariffs.
“Under the EU, taxes are levied on more than 50 different ceramic products imported into this country from across the world.
“At the stroke of a pen, politicians are removing these, and have decided to continue just six.
“They have not even included all the products that have additional anti-dumping remedies.
“We are especially concerned the tariff code covering most of our British wall tile production, is not included. It had previously been subject to anti-dumping measures.
“We hope this is an administrative error.
“Zero tariffs could destroy many manufacturing sectors in Britain.”
The confederation has warned there are far-reaching consequences across the British economy impacting people’s jobs, businesses and communities.
Dr Cohen added: “Government says ‘they’ll see how it goes for a year’ but that just isn’t good enough. Our successful businesses have already tied up most of their cash in Brexit preparations, in stocks or raw materials and finished goods, in paying overtime to deal with a spike in export orders, with resulting sparse order books in April and May.
“If they have a flood of imports on top of this, it’s going to be really challenging. At the same time, in a no deal Brexit our British manufacturers’ products would suddenly be more expensive in Europe and in places like South Korea and Canada where we will have lost our preferential access. It’s a double whammy.”
There are specific concerns for bathroom manufacturers and tile manufactures, two of the areas subject to the zero tariff whitewash.
Neil Gore, Managing Director of The Imperial Bathroom Company, in Aldridge, said: “We are one of just a handful of British ceramic bathroom manufacturers left in this country with over 90% having disappeared in the last 20 years.
“We employ 85 people, making the very finest British, top quality products, sold all around the world.
“The tariff code for imported basins, pedestals, toilets and cisterns from our international competitors will be zero according to the announcements today, which gives another significant benefit to our competitors whilst our exports to those markets being charged tariffs.
“I urge Government to reconsider, we need action to support the manufacturing sector, not destroy it.”
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, Publicity and Project Officer, British Ceramic Confederation, Federation House, Station Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 2SA.