EU round up – Paint import procedures to be simplified under WTO trade deal

13 February 2014

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has struck a global deal that should ease import and customs procedures that can hold up the delivery of paints, coatings and their ingredients to export and import customers.

This agreement on trade facilitation was agreed by a WTO ministerial conference in Bali, Indonesia, in December.

The meeting’s Chairman, Gita Wirjawan – Indonesia’s Trade Minister – said the deal would "reduce the cost of trading, smooth the flow of goods across borders and provide more certainty for business,” creating up to US$1trn in value for global business.

It insists that all WTO members publish all import procedures, charges, tariffs and appeal systems.

And it says penalties for breaking customs rules must depend on the seriousness of the breach and not encourage officials to impose them arbitrarily, avoiding "conflicts of interest in the assessment and collection of penalties and duties.”

Also, paints and coatings exporters should be offered the ability to lodge customs documents electronically in advance for pre-arrival processing, with WTO member states offering the electronic payment of duties, taxes, fees and charges.

Other international regulatory news affecting the paint and coatings sector:

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has released the first results of its first tranche of Community Rolling Action Plan (CoRAP) assessments of chemicals regarding their potential toxicity to humans and the environment. Paint and paint thinner solvent toluene was one target, with scientists concluding the existing EU indicative occupational exposure limit (50ppm) could be too high, and should be reconsidered by the European Commission’s scientific committee on occupational exposure limit. It suggests that a 20 ppm limit is an appropriate level for workers who may breathe toluene vapour.

Another paint and paint thinner ingredient – ethylene oxide – has been recommended for EU classification as potentially causing allergic skin reactions. An ECHA note said: "[EU] level agreement is needed on an acceptable risk level for workers and the general population with regard to the carcinogenic potential of substances, including ethylene oxide.”
Another chemical examined was tributyl phosphate, which is used as an anti-foaming agent in paints and coatings. Here, the CoRAP inquiry concluded that existing EU controls on its use are sufficient.

A new European Union (EU) biocidal products committee (BPC) has agreed working procedures, declaring it is now "ready to handle its first cases”, helping administer the EU biocidal products regulation, which came into force on September 1. The final procedures accepted were on approving active substances, granting EU-wide authorisation for biocides and giving opinions on scientific and technical matters regarding mutual recognition.

Scientists involved in the EU-funded InGeCt E1.4M research project have released a report explaining how they have been developing innovative environmentally friendly gelcoating technology for composites for marine and wind-turbines, reducing VOC emissions, application times and cost.

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