07 November 2002 23:59 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (CNI)--US and European chemical trade groups warned Thursday that European Union (EU) plans for regulating chemicals could have "devastating" impact on chemicals firms and downstream industries and would violate international trade agreements while disrupting world markets.
In a statement prepared for Friday's closing session of the annual meeting of the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) group in Chicago, Illinois, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) warned today that the EU chemicals regulatory plan "could unnecessarily raise costs, hamper innovation and disrupt world markets, as well as violate international trade agreements."
ACC and Cefic said that the proposed EU system - known as the European Commission's (EC) white paper on "strategy for a future chemicals policy" - could "move away from international regulatory convergence and create a complex, burdensome and largely unworkable system that would fail to improve human health and the environment."
Noting that the annual $73bn (Euro73bn) in chemicals trade between the US and EU has broad impact on downstream industries, the ACC-Cefic statement warned that the EC proposal "could have serious economic impact far beyond the chemical industry by significantly raising prices on thousands of consumer products on both sides of the Atlantic."
The consequences, the two trade groups said, "would be potentially devastating" for employment in the chemicals industry and downstream industries and for consumers. The statement said executives from the electronics, health care and personal care industries have said the consequences of the EC white paper "could be devastating for their sectors."
The groups said the EC plan would impose testing costs alone of some $7bn on chemical companies and even higher costs on downstream industries. They warned that the white paper's envisioned chemicals testing program - known as REACH for "registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals" - would "seriously outstrip the world's existing laboratory testing capacity."
As an alternative, ACC and Cefic urged the EU to consider their proposal "for a workable system that would achieve the goals" of the EC white paper without disrupting global chemicals trade.
Calling for a convergence of chemical regulatory programs, the two groups said: "The EU can help improve our health and safety efforts by promoting regulatory systems that are more pragmatic, risk-based, transparent and trade-neutral."
Details of the ACC-Cefic counter proposal were not immediately provided.
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