EU round up – paint sector could benefit as EU and Japan launch trade talks

18 January 2013

European Union (EU) and Japanese paint and coatings exporters could benefit from a future free trade deal, with the European Commission announcing that formal trade talks between these two developed world giants will go ahead.

Brussels’ directorate general for trade is stressing that Japan must make offers to remove its notoriously tough non-tariff barriers – such as trade licensing and other red tape – for the talks to succeed. Indeed, EU trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said: "We explicitly reserve ourselves the right ‘to pull the plug’ on the negotiations after one year if Japan does not live up to its commitments on removing non-tariff barriers.”

The Commission is convinced there is money to be made in Japan. Indeed, in 2011, according to international trade data, the EU exported US$33.1M worth of polymer-based non-liquid paints and varnishes to Japan, of which US$20M worth was based on synthetic polymers.

Currently, the EU paints sector is lightly defended by tariffs against Japanese imports – and these duties would probably disappear under an agreement. For instance, EU duties on non-liquid polyester-based paints and varnishes and liquid acrylic or vinyl polymer-based paints and varnishes exported from Japan are currently 6.5%. It is the same for most non-liquid-based acrylic or vinyl polymers, although those based on polyurethane already enter the EU duty free.

ECHA warns of non-compliance regarding data sheets

The European Chemicals Agency’s (ECHA) REACH-EN-FORCE-2 project has warned of significant non-compliance with the rules of EU chemical control system REACH regarding safety data sheets drafted by the formulators of chemical mixtures. These are critical safety assessment documents under REACH and in an assessment of approximately 1200 inspections by national chemical regulators it was found that 52% of the safety data sheets examined had been compiled in ways that broke REACH rules.

The project also found that 25% of companies checked were breaking REACH classification, labelling and packaging rules as regards their chemical formulations. Small- and medium-sized enterprises made up 85% of those organisations inspected. An ECHA note concluded this was evidence of "high rates of incompliance among chemical formulators”.

Meanwhile, EU ministers are considering proposed changes to the labelling rules of EU directive 75/324/EEC on aerosol dispensers. These relate especially to flammability, volume and hazard statements.
The European Commission’s competition directorate general is considering whether to approve a planned purchase by Polish pigments manufacturer Zakłady Azotowe w Tarnowie-Mościcach (ATT Poland) of Polish chemical group Zakłady Azotowe Puławy (ZAP Poland).

The European Parliament has backed a proposed EU directive that would ban, restrict or monitor sales to the public of products that contain chemicals potentially used to make explosives, including many fossil oil-based products and hydrogen peroxide-based paint thinner.

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