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London - The UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT) has confirmed that the Department for International Trade (DIT) has cancelled the popular and effective Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP) with immediate effect.

The TAP export scheme has been enormously important for the UK fashion and textile industry as it is almost unique as a route to financial support for smaller companies as they start their export journey.

The scheme provided a small amount of financial support to SME companies attending major international trade shows. UKFT has worked with those companies and the government to ensure the grants are used in the most effective way and to help companies grow through international sales.

Over the years, many household names have been launched at key events using the scheme in Paris, Milan, New York, Shanghai, Berlin and Florence, including: Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood, Alex Monroe, Edward Green, Abraham Moon, Tateossian, Jenny Packham, Orla Kiely, Simon Carter, Grenfell, Harris Tweed Hebrides, Sunspel, Christopher Raeburn, People Tree, Kestin Hare, Liberty Fabrics, Folk, Melin Tregwynt, Huddersfield Fine Worsted, Tyler and Tyler, GH Hurt.

In addition, UKFT has been able to use the scheme to promote the broader industry including larger companies like Johnstons of Elgin, Begg Scotland, John Smedley, Corgi Hosiery and Dents who have worked with UKFT to support smaller companies coming through and raise the profile of UK plc at a number of international shows.

UKFT has written to Graham Stuart MP, Minister for Exports at DIT and Stephen Barclay MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury to request an urgent meeting and clarification of the government plans

UKFT has been told that HM Treasury will look at ways government can remain involved with international shows but it is not clear whether fashion and textiles will remain a priority or whether grants will be part of any new scheme.

Speaking as a past recipient of TAP support, Simon Carter of Simon Carter Menswear said: “We have used the TAP scheme very successfully through the UK Fashion and Textile Association in Italy and at New York Men’s Fashion Week. Without the grant and UKFT’s support we would not have secured our current business in the EU and the USA, which also led to our business in India.”

Adam Mansell, CEO at UKFT, said: “During the pandemic and the approach to Brexit, we were baffled to see that the UK was the only European country not to increase its support for export businesses. Support was effectively mothballed for 14 months while the Treasury reviewed the TAP scheme. The decision to cancel TAP without having a viable alternative is catastrophic as we start to come out of the pandemic. It makes little sense when compared to the government’s declared ambitions for “Global Britain” and “levelling up”.

He continued: “UKFT and its members are committed to working with government to get the best deal for our exporters, especially in the UK’s new trade agreement markets such as the EU and Japan We recognise that budgets are incredibly tough and we are here to help on the ground but for this to happen government needs to listen to and support this vital industry.”

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