UpdateGermany chems support Obama call for US-EU free trade deal

13 February 2013 15:30  [Source: ICIS news]

(updates with Cefic comment in paragraphs 11-12)

LONDON (ICIS)--Germany’s chemical industry is supporting US President Barack Obama’s call for talks on a comprehensive free-trade partnership between the US and the EU, German chemical producers’ trade group VCI said on Wednesday.

“It is very good that politicians are again emphasising free trade and a transatlantic partnership, and are putting this on to their agenda,” said VCI general manager Utz Tillmann, commenting on Obama’s call during the annual state of the union message before Congress on Tuesday evening.

A transatlantic trade deal was also important as the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha trade round was not making progress, Tillmann added.

“With a bilateral trade deal, Europe and the US can stimulate growth and help create new jobs,” he said.

While industrial tariffs on chemicals traded between the US and the EU were low, the high volume of transatlantic trade resulted in high costs to chemical firms on both sides, he added.

In 2010, European chemical firms paid some €700m ($946m) in trade tariffs and charges to Washington, while US chemical producers paid about €1bn to Brussels, Tillmann said.

In addition to abolishing tariffs, a US-EU deal needed to address non-tariff trade barriers, such as different standards and regulations in the fields of environmental, consumer and health protection, he said.

Also, countries from outside the EU needed to be given the opportunity to join the deal, in order to avoid weakening the WTO, Tillmann said.

Europe and the US needed to step forward now, showing political leadership in order to push for free trade and reject protectionism, he added.

Furthermore, Tillmann called on the EU to work out a bilateral free-trade deal with Japan.

Belgium-based chemical industry body Cefic also backed the proposal, stressing that any free trade agreement should encompass regulatory cooperation and other potential non-trade barriers.

“A trade agreement would lower costs of chemicals trade, help grow economies and create jobs on both sides of the Atlantic,” said Cefic president and chairman of BASF’s executive board Kurt Bock.

Frankfurt-based VCI represents about 1,650 chemical firms.

($1 = €0.74)

Additional reporting by Tom Brown.

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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