Dealers face cancellations

The EU tariffs are adding an average of £18,000 per boat to imports of US craft The EU tariffs are adding an average of £18,000 per boat to imports of US craft

With the EU tariffs on imports of US boats now in force, the marine industry is left wondering what the future will hold.

Boats in transit prior to June 22 2018 when the tariffs came in are not liable for the additional 25% tax however any placed in transit after this date are affected.

The tariffs are part of the European Commission’s retaliatory measures against US steel and aluminium tariffs with leisure craft just one area affected.

And the tariffs not only apply to new boats but also second-hand boats if the boat is of US origin says Simon Beck, Peters & May export and customs expert.

The only boats not included are inflatable boats.


And for dealers and those involved in the import of boats, the situation is already having a big impact.

“As we ship the majority of small boats ex-USA to Europe, the new regulations have already had a negative impact on our business. We have already had over 40 cancellations as EU dealers place orders for new boats on hold,” said Simon.

“Everyone who is importing pleasure craft from the US is impacted.”

And he warned against trying to find ways around the duties saying that an unassembled or disassembled boat doesn’t qualify only if it doesn’t have the essential character or a vessel of a particular kind.

Purchase price

For Nautique Midlands, the situation is a ‘nightmare’. Business owner Jason Bates wants to highlight the issue as he says the additional tariffs are adding an average of £18,000 per boat to the consumers’ purchase price, something that he says is unsustainable.

“We’ve got boats that have already been sold; the owner has paid the deposit and all of a sudden it’s costing thousands more,” he said.

“US companies are not taking the hit which is understandable. What do we do? The American companies can sell everything they make. The duty is intended to protect our industries, but we sell waterski and wakeboard boats which are not made over here.”

For Nautique customers the new tariffs mean around 45% of the cost of a boat is now tax – made up of VAT and tariffs.

Additional cost

“Boats are expensive as they are,” said Jason. “We work a lot with ski clubs around the country, disabled waterski clubs and deaf waterski clubs and schools.

“They won’t be able to afford to pay the additional cost.”

And he warned that he will have to make staff redundant as a consequence.

“There’s eight of us here and we’ll probably drop down to three or four. It’s an absolute headache.

“if we bought sportsboats, there’s another option but we don’t believe there’s any other option for us, there’s nothing we can do.

“The tariff has gone from 1.7% to 25% and the Government will now loose out. We pay the Government about £700,000 a year in taxes. There’s never been a more expensive time to buy. The exchange rate is bad, VAT is high. They don’t want people to succeed.”

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