“If you try to sell British socks in North America they currently attract a 19 per cent tariff and the Americans insist before they allow them to be sold on the US market they must try to set fire to them twice”

Boris Johnson to reporters en route to UN General Assembly

September 22, 2019

Facts

Johnson’s claim was quickly corrected by sock makers. Corgi Socks told Politico that US regulations were no barrier for its business. “Duty tariffs [with the US] are a bit of a barrier, regulations are not,” managing director Chris Jones said. “We have no problem with regulations selling in the US.” While the maximum tariff possible on socks exported to the US is 18.8 percent, this only applies if they are made from artificial or synthetic fibres. More common cotton socks have a tariff of 13.5 percent. 

As for Johnson’s claim that sock imports have to be fire-tested twice, the Department for International Trade told us this would only be required if manufacturers are selling a product in both UK and US markets, as the two have different standards.

Rueven Fletcher, owner of UK retailer the Sock Council, said: “My opinion is that if it comes out of Boris Johnson’s mouth it’s likely not to be true.”

Verdict

The prime minister’s statement about US sock tariffs smells distinctly whiffy.

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