FEARS are growing for the future of the textiles industry in the Borders with crippling tariffs about to be imposed by the USA.

Hundreds of local jobs have come under threat after America announced last week that it was imposing a 25 percent tariff on many products which are manufactured in the region.

The taxation hike is being introduced as part of an ongoing dispute between the USA and certain European countries over subsidies granted to flight firms Boeing and Airbus.

America is the third largest export market behind Europe and Japan for most Borders textiles manufacturers.

And the current export duty of four percent to the States keeps the region competitive in a fragile market place.

But with Italy, who are the region's biggest textiles competitor, not facing the same tariff increase, local firms will lose out on valuable cross-Atlantic orders.

Simon Cotton, chief executive of Hawick-based Johnstons of Elgin, said. “This will have major impact on our knitwear business, as well as the whole of the UK knitwear industry.

"The US consumer has a great affinity with British high-quality knitwear and we urge all parties involved to come to an agreement quickly for the sake of British manufacturers and US consumers.”

Included in the list of products which face a 25 percent tariff are all cashmere goods as well as knitwear, suits and blankets made from other types of wool.

Although the region's textiles industry has shrunk since the hey-days of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Borders is still to home to some of the world's best-loved brands and most respected manufacturers.

Chanel, Pringle of Scotland and Lyle & Scott knitwear products remain in high-demand around the world.

And garments from the likes of Hawick Cashmere, Hawick Knitwear, Holland & Sherry, House of Cheviot, Johnstons of Elgin, Lochcarron, Shorts of Hawick and Hawico are highly valued in many foreign countries.

But the imposing of US tariffs could end a valuable income stream for many - putting jobs at risk.

Many exporters from the region are already bracing themselves for the backlash in Europe from Brexit.

David Sanderson from Hawico has been in regular contact with local MP John Lamont since last week's announcement, for him to lobby Westminster for help.

Mr Lamont asked a question in the House of Commons on Monday to seek assurances.

And he is urging Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss as well as officials in the States to broker a deal before the tariffs are due to kick in later this month.

Mr Lamont told us: "It is completely unfair for businesses in the Borders to be caught in the middle of what is essentially a disagreement between the EU and the US about aircraft.

For textiles to be hit with a 25 percent tariff for one of our largest markets could be crippling, will inevitably harm economic growth and could cost jobs in the Borders.

"For Hawick in particular, textiles is a really important employer, but it’s also a really fragile sector.

“The UK Government needs to use every available avenue to broker an agreement between the US and the EU to try to bring an end to this dispute.

"If this devastating tariff regime goes ahead, the Government needs to look at covering these tariffs to protect local Borders businesses

“After speaking to Ministers over the past few days, I know the UK Government is taking this issue very seriously.

"Along with other Scottish Conservative colleagues I have also written to our Ambassador to the US to make sure he is clear about the need to find a solution to this.”