EU clothiers braced for free trade in textiles

Jeans manufacturers are bracing themselves for a relaxation of textile imports into the European Union, which is likely to encourage a wider choice of cheap imported goods for consumers.

Textile companies say the scrapping of import duties could result in a flood of products from beyond the EU, slashing prices and resulting in tougher competition.

The liberalisation process, effective from January 1, 2005, follows Levi Strauss’ court battle with Tesco, which is selling Levi’s jeans at knockdown prices.

The jeans giant took Tesco to court in an attempt to stop it importing cheaper Levi’s from outside the EU to sell at low prices, but it appears to have lost its battle.

The liberalisation process forms part of the World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on Textiles and Clothing. The ATC requires WTO members to progressively liberalise the textile and clothing trades by bringing the products under the umbrella of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade’s (GATT) Uruguay talks of 1994.

In the past, EU textile producers, dominated by Portugal, have tried to staunch the flow of cheap imports by setting up tariff barriers.

According to an EU report last year, duty free textile imports accounted for almost E24bn (&£15bn) in 1999, or 40 per cent, of total textiles and clothing imports.

Total EU imports of textiles and clothing rose 31 per cent from E45.3bn (&£28bn) in 1995 to E59.3bn (&£37bn) in 1999.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here