Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray has criticised the UK Treasury for their lack of urgency in addressing concerns from a Dumfries based factory over unfair import duties.
Interfloor in Dumfries has been manufacturing “Gripperrods” carpet gripper since the 1980’s, and is the only manufacturer of this type of product in Europe. The company purchases beech plywood from Russia for the manufacturing of the product, which is liable for 7% import duty as it is imported from outside Europe. Previously this material was liable for 3% import duty until 2 years ago.
However Carpet Gripper imported from China is liable for 0% import duty, even though it is also imported from outside Europe. The softer and cheaper Chinese product is made from poplar plywood.
The reason for the different tariffs is that the woods are classified under two separate export categories. The duty applied to poplar birch wood originating from any third countries, who have not signed Free Trade or Trade Preference agreements with the EU, is 7%. Meanwhile the duty applied to poplar plywood originating from the same countries is 0%. Neither Russia nor China have signed relevant agreements with the EU meaning they are subjected to third country charges.
Elaine wrote to the UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Sajid Javid last year to notify him of the issue and to request that it be rectified. She was advised that the matter had been transferred to HM Treasury but so far, there has been no response.
Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray said:
“Interfloor has been a great asset for our local area and the local economy for decades. We cannot allow what seems like more of an admin issue than anything else to threaten the future of this local employer.
“In my view, the UK Government should either be extending the 7% import duty rate to the Chinese carpet gripper to allow an even playing field for UK companies, or at a bare minimum returning to the previous import duties for the Russian poplar birch wood which were increased 2 years ago.
“I wrote to the UK Secretary of State for Business last year to raise this issue, but the UK Government’s failure to respond thus far obviously shows its total lack of interest in preserving our local manufacturing industry. The Government must give this issue much higher priority, rectify the unfair import duty rates which disadvantage manufacturing companies in the UK, and safeguard the dozens of local jobs which rely on the continuing manufacturing of this product.”