22 January 2001 00:00 [Source: ICB Americas]By Joseph Chang
With the dawning of the new Bush administration and the potential for forging a new spirit of bipartisanship, there are high hopes for positive change in the US chemical industry. Among the top issues on the agenda are corporate tax policy, rail competition and environmental matters, according to the American Chemistry Council (ACC).
"After spending almost 34 years now in the nation's capital, I have a feeling things will start to look better for our industry," said Frederick L. Webber, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council, speaking at the monthly meeting of the Societe de Chimie Industrielle--American Section in New York City last week.
Mr. Webber believes there will be a shift in how policy is created. "You're not going to have command and control for the most part coming from the White House," he says. "You're going to have strong delegation of power and responsibilities, and coalitions forming on an issue by issue basis rather than in a partisan fashion."
High on the agenda list is the issue of corporate taxes.
"We want the administration to focus on business tax cuts," says Mr. Webber.
Among the tax issues are the elimination of double taxation of foreign operations, faster capital cost recovery for manufacturing assets, and tax credits for R&D expenses.
"The way the current R&D tax structure is today, it provides too little tax benefit to the chemical industry," Mr. Webber points out. "Our industry holds one out of every seven patents. If the business of chemistry gets only marginal benefit from a tax provision designed to encourage R&D, then something is wrong and that has to be addressed."
Another major issue is rail competition. "We're getting clobbered on a regular basis because of high costs and substandard service," he says. "We continue to push for regulatory reform on that front."
Within the area of environment, the ACC will work with the new administration toward ensuring EPA's compliance with the government's Performance and Results Act, the proper use by the agency of benefit/cost analyses for major regulations, and an updated and well maintained integrated risk information system.
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