Louise Pope, export manager of the Colony Gift Corporation, a candle manufacturer based in Cumbria, said: "We are still hoping that our particular product will be taken off the hit list."
The company, which has 600 UK employees, relies on exports across the Atlantic for 10 per cent of its business. Ms Pope added: "It could take us years to build up exports again. It's not just our current sales we could lose. There is also the potential business we will lose, which could also now go to our competitors in the East. It's going to be very difficult to get back in there."
Alex Muirhead, commercial director of Price's Candles, which employs 400 people and exports about 10 per cent of its products to the United States, said: "It's very bad timing. We have been investing a lot of money in America in terms of warehousing and infrastructure. It's been a real blow and could have a real effect on jobs in the UK. Our rivals in Denmark and Holland have been handed orders on a plate."
Isabel Welch, chief executive of the Giftware Association, which has been lobbying the Government on behalf of its members, added: "We are obviously relieved that the sum of money has been cut and we are hopeful that our product will be taken off the list.
"But even if it is, our American contacts have been irrevocably damaged because they have started sourcing in the Far East. Now we have to start building those links again."