UK apparel and textile exports rose almost seven per cent from last year, with a 28 per cent increase since 2012. The rise has come on the back of increased interest in heritage UK manufacturing, the creativity of British fashion designers and the importance of the UK as a key apparel trading hub.
However, there could be disruption ahead as the country extricates itself from its long-term membership of the EU. In 2016 the European trade bloc was the UK’s biggest export market and accounted for 74 per cent of the products it exported.
Britain’s apparel and textile exports to the EU rose 36 per cent from 2012 to 2016. But imports also rose with the UK trade deficit increasing. Many UK fashion chains import yarn and some manmade materials from abroad, making them vulnerable to currency fluctuations. If they import from China or India, the cost of yarn and raw materials are US dollar denominated. That impacts on the cost. Aside from rising costs, there is the potential impact on tariffs from a hard Brexit.
If the UK does not reach a post-Brexit trade agreement with the EU by 2019, the nation could be forced to use World Trade Organisation rules. This would mean tariffs on food and clothing rising sharply, with clothing and footwear prices going up by 16 per cent.