UKFT x BFC Industry Government Forum: Trade and Tariffs
In the third instalment of the UKFT x BFC Industry Government Forum, UKFT’s CEO Adam Mansell and British Fashion Council CEO Caroline Rush outlined how the two organisations are working together raise the challenges that Brexit has revealed for the UK fashion and textile industry with ministers and civil servants on a very regular basis.
Some of these include recent meetings with Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden, Ministers from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Department for International Trade (DIT), and officials from The Treasury and HMRC. UKFT and BFC are also actively engaged in a range of government groups that deal with international trade including
- Department for International Trade Retail Group
- The Consumer Goods and Creative Industries Trade Advisory Groups
- Department for International Trade Luxury Steering Group
- ACCTS TAG Subgroup
- Department for International Trade Airbus and Digital Tax Group
- Creative Industries Trade & Investment Board
- Northern Ireland Protocol Update Group
- Creative Industries Federation
Until recently there hasn’t been a formal mechanism for the UK and EU to meet to discuss issues with the operation of the UK-EU Trade Continuity Agreement (TCA). However, after the European Parliament ratified the deal at the end of last month, both the UK and the EU are expected to set up the structures that should allow some of these issues to be discussed and addressed.
UKFT and BFC met with senior government officials last week to raise key concerns for the industry and to discuss ideas for resolving some of the problems. These include:
- The implications of free circulation
- Issues around the cumulation of origin
- Simplifying how returns are dealt with at customs
- How samples are dealt with under the TCA
- The negative impact of the removal of VAT Free shopping
- Support to develop new export markets
- Clarity on the future arrangements for with Northern Ireland
UKFT and BFC have also published a range of industry-specific practical guides for members on topics including on rules of origin, free circulation and on how to use an ATA Carnet. New guides will be published shortly to help businesses to handle samples and what the impact of Brexit is on how brands operate at European Trade shows.
There are also simple guides to some of the other key trade agreements the UK government has secured including the implications for the sector of the deals with Japan, Canada, South Korean, Tunisia, Morocco and Turkey.
UKFT and BFC continue to be closely involved with government as they prepare to agree or negotiate other free trade deals. This includes providing industry input on the Australian and New Zealand deals, as well as providing detailed intelligence into the preparation for a deal with India and working with officials to examine how the industry could benefit from a free trade deal with the USA (while highlighting the impact of unrelated trade disputes).
In addition to representing the industry to government, both UKFT and BFC undertake a lot of activity to actively promote international sales. In normal years UKFT takes more than 700 fashion and textile companies to overseas trade shows through the government’s Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP). BFC runs the LondonShowRoom events in Paris, works closely with Seoul Fashion Week, Shanghai Fashion Week and host the Brits in New York event in June.
Positioning the UK fashion and textiles industry’s reputation and leadership across the globe is at the heart of what both organisations do. Since the onset of the pandemic, BFC has revolutionised the London Fashion Week and LondonShowRoom digital platforms, bringing the fashion community together to promote exclusive multimedia content from designers, creatives, brand partners, media and retailers to a global audience, giving designers the opportunity to generate B2B and B2C sales. BFC has also connected with US retailers through a London Fashion Week content series, hosted an event with WWD China during Shanghai Fashion Week and an influencer programme promoting British designers with JD.com. BFC is also rolling out a series of partnership strategies in key international markets.
UKFT has worked with the Scottish government and industry on a Japanese lifestyle promotion campaign, supported UK textile companies in Shanghai, and launched a new guide to help brands prepare to wholesale online, as well as offering advice on how to make the most of the opportunities offered by virtual tradeshows and selling digitally to overseas buyers. UKFT has recently launched the British Brands campaign to showcase the emerging designers, cult labels, heritage producers and creative artisans changing the face of UK fashion across womenswear, menswear, childrenswear, lingerie and accessories.
In 2019, UKFT launched a three-year international promotion of UK textile manufacturing capacity and capability with big events held at Première Vision Paris, Intertextile Shanghai and planned for Milano Unica. These will be resumed as soon when events return but since the onset of the pandemic, UKFT transformed this activity to a Best of British Textiles digital campaign and the launch of the first ever British Textile Week.
Adam Mansell, CEO of UKFT, said: “International trade is a central part of UKFT and BFC’s activity, both in terms of government policy asks and the initiatives we deliver to and on behalf of the industry. We need evidence to support our asks to government so please do complete our latest survey on the link below.”
Find out more about the UKFT x BFC Industry Government Forum here.