An EU decision to keep import taxes on Chinese tableware and cookware will leave hard-pressed customers paying more, without bringing any benefits to UK manufacturers, said the British Retail Consortium (BRC) today.
In a statement, the BRC explained: “The European Commission imposed ‘anti-dumping’ duties on a provisional basis last November – despite fierce opposition from a majority of member states. Today the Commission presented its proposal to extend these taxes until 2018.
“The BRC has sought to persuade the Commission to scrap the duties. But a majority of the EU’s Anti-Dumping Committee voted today to accept the plans to extend them for another five years. Disappointingly the UK, which previously opposed the duties, decided on this occasion to abstain.”
Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, added: “These charges shouldn’t have been imposed and they should not be kept. We argued against these pointless extra costs last November. They are still wrong.
“This decision is contrary to the free trade principles the Commission says it supports, and hard-pressed customers are paying in the form of higher shop prices. It’s an avoidable inflationary pressure that is entirely unjustified. It will do nothing to support European producers who don’t have the capacity to supply enough of these products for the value end of the market anyway.
“I’m pleased our efforts have helped persuade the Commission to reduce the rates of duty applied but the impact on shop prices will still be painful. There should be no duties at all.”
The duties were the result of an investigation by the Commission into claims by the European ceramics industry that Chinese producers are selling into the EU at artificially low prices. The new decision in this case will result in lower rates of duty (up to 36%) than those applied so far (up to 58%).
The BRC says the EU market for ceramic tableware and kitchenware is worth Euro 1.5 billion. Half of that (Euro 730 million-worth) comes from China. In volume terms, 80% of all the EU’s imports of ceramic tableware come from China.
The Consortium adds that it is estimated that the duties add Euro 200 million per year to importers’ costs – a large sum which retailers will have to pass on to customers. “And this is just the latest ‘anti-dumping’ duty to be imposed by the Commission,” it points out. “Other targets have included ironing boards, bicycles and candles.The BRC has consistently argued against unjustified duties on consumer goods.”