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Impact of Brexit Uncertainty on the Imports of Polyester and Nylon Fibers in the United Kingdom

12 August 2019

Brexit uncertainty has cast a dark cloud on the UK economy since the referendum in June 2016 when the United Kingdom chose to leave the European Union. Since then, there has been slow down in foreign investments and new manufacturing capacity. Consumer confidence has also taken a hit. Leaving the European Union with or without a deal has created a high degree of uncertainty for the textile industry also.

Currently as part of the European Union, the United Kingdom enjoys free movement of goods within the union. Being part of the EU, the UK is also a member of many duty-free and duty-preferential treatments with other countries for a variety of products which include textiles and its raw materials, such as polyester and nylon fibers (staple fibres and filament yarns). Currently, the importing of polyester and nylon fibers into the EU from a non-member country, with no free trade agreement or Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits, incurs a 4% import duty. In the UK, the major demand of these products is met by imports. The following article discusses whether there has been any change in the supply pattern of these products to the UK from EU countries and non-EU countries in recent times.

Polyester Staple Fiber:

UK imports of polyester staple fiber (PSF) have reduced from 131 kta in 2014/2015 to 121 kt in 2018. The quantities reduced by 9% from 2016 to 2018. The top 5 PSF exporters to the United Kingdom in 2018 were South Korea, Ireland, Taiwan, Vietnam and Indonesia. These 5 countries met 80% of the UK's PSF demand. Imports have reduced from most of the exporting countries. The main reduction is observed in imports coming from Vietnam, with a 35% reduction from 2016 to 2018. There is about a 5% reduction in imports from Ireland and Taiwan in this time frame.

Polyester Filaments:

The imports of polyester yarns have also been in decline. Import volume has dropped from 40.5 kt in 2014 to 34.3 kt in 2018, a reduction of 10%. In the last three years, import volumes reduced by 5% in 2018 when compared to 2016. Until 2015, about 8 kta of Partially Oriented Yarns (POY) was imported in the UK, however, these quantities reduced to 2 kt in 2016 and were almost negligible in 2017 and 2018 implying that polyester texturizing has now declined to minimum in the UK. Textured import quantities increased from 18 kt in 2017 to 19 kt in 2018 however, Fully Drawn Yarns (FDY) import quantities have reduced from a level of 9 kt per year in 2014/15 to 6 kt per year in 2017/18.

Nylon Filament Yarns (Textiles, Industrial and BCF for Carpets):

The import quantities of nylon filaments have increased from 25.5 kt in 2014 to 33.3 kt in 2018. The major imports quantities increased in 2017 and 2018, mostly in Bulk Continuous Filament (BCF) yarns, which are meant for carpets end use. BCF quantities increased from 15 kt in 2016 to 22.5 kt in 2018, which represents an increase of about 50% in just two years.

The major exports of BCF to the United Kingdom have come from the United States, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. Import quantities increased significantly from the United States in the last two years, from 3.5 kt in 2016 to 11 kt in 2018. BCF yarn quantities have increased from Germany while they declined from the Netherlands in 2019.

UK imports of nylon industrial yarns have been stable in the range of 7-8 kt per year since 2014. Similarly, the import quantities of nylon textured yarns have been stable in the range of 11-12 kt per year, except in 2015 when 8.5 kt was imported into the UK. Nylon Fully Drawn Yarn (FDY) quantities have reduced from 1.7 kta in 2013 to 0.5 kta in 2018.

As of now, the custom tariffs in the UK for polyester and nylon fibers will remain unchanged until the announced Brexit date of 31st October 2019. There has already been some change in the import patterns as explained above. We feel that the product flow of these products between the UK and the EU countries will be impacted further if non-EU 3rd country duties come into place between the European Union and United Kingdom in the event of a no deal.

Similarly, many such analyses and the expected impact of current market factors are covered in our World Analyses for Polyester and Nylon Fibers. Such subscription will provide deep market insight into the major challenges these industries are facing.


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