Suppliers, members and customers of the textile rental industry must unite to fight the bid by European cotton producers to have anti-dumping duties imposed on Indian and Pakistani made-up cotton bed linen.

Eurocoton, the producers’ trade association, has sent three cases to the European commission. But the TSA believes the complaints are unjustified as well as being harmful both to the textile rental industry and to the already pressured local economies in the countries concerned.

Similar complaints five years ago led to duties ranging from 6% to over 27%.

If the current complaints are implemented they could lead not only to price rises throughout the supply chain, but the possible closure of mills in India and Pakistan – without any just cause in either case.

Anti-dumping duties are supposed to level the playing field and protect European producers and jobs from unfair or state-subsidised foreign competition.

But in this particular case there is no real European industry to protect, no domestic capacity to supply such goods.

Indeed, Eurocoton members could themselves be harmed.

For if anti-dumping duties make it difficult for mills in India and Pakistan to sell commercial quality bed linen to the European market, they will move to other higher-value goods instead. And for these higher quality goods, there is a good European domestic production market, one that will surely face real pressure from the resulting increase in supply.

There are many avenues to explore in fighting these duties: providing evidence to the Commission itself; lobbying national governments in each of the EU member states on grounds both of free trade and international developments; and a possible legal challenge in the World Trade Organisation.

TSA, representing both the UK industrial laundry industry and many importers of bed linen, intends to lead this campaign. But it cannot succeed in isolation.

Suppliers must challenge the validity of the prima facie case presented by Eurocoton. Members must write to their MPs and MEPs; and customers (hotel groups and NHS purchasers) must point out the threat to tourism and to scarce healthcare resources.