News

Is it time to rethink tariffs?

  • Australian Designers taxed on their Intellectual Property
  • TCF Industry needs a government dialogue about the future
  • Textile and Fashion industry essential to Australia
Richard Evans

Richard Evans

The Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia (TFIA) has called on industry stakeholders to have a debate about the future of the TCF industry.  This call follows a submission to the new Abbott Government setting out priority policy for their consideration.

“We have already seen Minister Billson flag our concerns about independent contractors within the supply channel being automatically deemed employees to the detriment of them, and their clients,” Evans said. “We welcome the Minister’s comments, and we hope this leads to relief for our hard working industry, overburdened by regulation.”

“We would also welcome the Abbott Government to consider the issue of design intellectual property, and the manner in which tariffs place an unfair tax upon Australian designers,” Evans said.

“Our textile and fashion designers are rated as some of the best in the world, yet we discriminate against them because we place a tariff against their design,” Evans said. “This is a ludicrous situation where we have virtually forced manufacturing jobs off shore; yet now, because designers cannot source adequate and appropriate manufacturing in Australia, they are forced to pay a tariff on their work.”

Tariffs apply on all categories of TCF products as they enter Australia. Many years ago these were meant to protect the local manufacturers from international competition. The tariff wall began to fall under the Hawke Government, for the supposed benefit of consumers and access to world markets; subsequently, competition in many instances was too great for local specialist manufacturers, and we have seen a significant demise of skills and companies in the important and essential TCF industry.

The industry that remains is extremely hardy with employees over 40,000 representing almost 10% of manufacturing in Australia. The industry wants to grow but it needs a fair market, not one skewed towards international companies when we have markets leaders in Australia. Yet our niche designers, who can’t source competitive manufacturing in Australia, are forced to source from other countries; thus meaning, their fashion ranges are required to pay a tariff.

“Our fantastic designers, who complete the entire pre manufacturing process in Australia, are forced by the consequences of government policy to import their designed product,” Evans said. “If they could source competitive manufacturing in Australia they would not be penalised, but as they can’t, we impose a ridiculous handicap on their IP.”

“It’s time for a mature discussion about tariffs. For too long, our essential TCF industry has been required to carry the burden of market change for global competiveness, to the detriment of many Australian companies; and now we penalise our Australian designers because many manufacturers have given up the market.” Evans said. “The industry is ready for a tariff discussion and we ask the government to engage with us.”

Evans also restated the four principles of TFIA policy priority for the textile and fashion industry, which are:

  • Stop the demise of the local industry and initiate a Strategic Growth Action Agenda.
  • NO to government welfare, and YES to education and innovation
  • Insist on Australian Made TCF government procurement
  • Stop the over regulation in the textile and fashion industry

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