North American Chemical Industry United as Nafta Talks Close
Chemical industry associations in Canada, Mexico and the US have presented a united front following the third round of talks for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).
After the talks ended in Ottawa on 27 September, the Chemical Industry Association of Canada (CIAC), the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the Asociacion Nacional de la Industria Química (ANIQ) issued joint recommendations on regulatory cooperation and rules of origin.
The statement was a signal that Mexico will likely follow the US and Canada in adopting a risk-based chemical management scheme rather than the hazard-based approach used in the EU's REACH.
"We need to create a North American chemical industry, not just a Canadian, American or Mexican industry," said Guillermo Miller of ANIQ during a panel discussion at the sidelines of the negotiations.
"We need regulatory convergence and agreement on rules of origin. Common rules of origin will facilitate trade by reducing barriers."
The associations issued a statement in March that "chemical regulations should be science and risk-based, taking both hazard and exposure into consideration." They followed up in September with more detailed statements on regulatory cooperation and rules of origin.
The groups view Nafta 'modernisation' as an opportunity to set a global precedent in favour of risk-based regulation.
"Implementation of these agreed positions will encourage regulatory harmonisation capable of protecting people and the environment in all three countries while also spurring innovation and improving our overall regional position in the highly competitive global chemistry sector," said CIAC's president and CEO Bob Masterson.
"A great amount of effort by our respective associations and the industry in all three countries has gone into landing on these consensus positions," he said. "We are leading the way in demonstrating that there are indeed opportunities to modernise Nafta while delivering benefits to all three partners to the agreement."
Greg Skelton, senior director, global affairs at the ACC said that in Ottawa, the coordination of regulations is critical to maintain tariff-free trade. And, he added, the industry wants to spread TSCA-type rules across the North American system.
The Nafta talks move on to round four in October, but the slow pace of the negotiations have been blamed by many, including Canada's foreign affairs minister, on the US delay in providing specific recommendations. ANIQ's Mr Miller said he is "concerned that Nafta will be rejected by the US before these negotiations are completed".
Disclaimer: Echemi reserves the right of final explanation and revision for all the information.