A new tax being imposed on Chinese ceramic tile imports by the European Union will hit UK home & DIY retailers hard, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
Coming into effect on Saturday March 19th, duties of between 30 and 70 per cent have an impact on the dockside price paid on importers of the Chinese export.
It will apply to all countries in the EU, including the UK, during a trial nine-month period but could be put in place for as many as five years.
Stephen Robertson, Director General of the BRC, said: “Free trade is good for customers. It’s infuriating the EU persists with protectionism, which pushes shop prices up.
“The EU talks about the benefits of free trade but, yet again, does exactly the opposite. Just now, the last thing customers need is another, bureaucratically-driven, source of inflation.
Up to seven per cent of ceramic tiles on the European market come from China and with costs set to increase this will remove the competitive pressure on the makers of more expensive tiles to keep their prices down.
The rates decision was taken by the EU’s Anti-Dumping Committee on the basis that the imported tiles are currently unfair competition for European tile manufacturers.
Robertson added: “While we welcome the news that the taxes on shoes from China and Vietnam will be lifted from the end of this month - something the BRC has been campaigning for vigorously - it’s galling to see that this new tax on ceramic tiles will simply shift the burden from one part of the British consumer’s budget to another.
“When the UK housing market is faltering and many families are choosing to improve their current home instead of moving, this is extra cost is particularly harmful. The BRC will continue to press for the swift removal of these unfair taxes.”
With the Budget announcement due next week, the BRC has been calling on the UK government to reduce business taxes for domestic retailers, so that they can help boost growth in the economy.