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Regulatory cooperation under T-TIP: Greater efficiency, strong health and environmental protections

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) is a historic opportunity to promote economic growth and job creation, enhance U.S. competitiveness and expand consumer choice. But it’s also a junction through which U.S. and EU regulators can join together to secure efficiencies and enhance their ongoing efforts to protect human health and the environment.

Eliminating the remaining tariff barriers on trans-Atlantic trade in chemicals would save around $1.5 billion per year, providing a boost not just to the chemical industry, but to the many downstream manufacturing industries that utilize chemicals.

Enhanced trans-Atlantic regulatory cooperation on chemicals under T-TIP would potentially lead to even greater savings, generating upwards of $2 billion in additional economic output for the U.S. chemical industry alone.  It would save governments money too.

Don’t miss “U.S.-EU Trade Talks Aim at Barriers, Not Tariffs” by WSJ reporter Matthew Dalton

Strengthened U.S.-EU regulatory cooperation would help ensure that regulatory mandates do not result in unnecessary barriers to trade, but it’s important to keep in mind that this does not mean undercutting either side’s high levels of health and environmental protection.

The next round of negotiations on the TTIP will take place in Washington, DC from December 16-20.” Below are some of the areas in which the U.S. and EU could reduce inefficiencies through enhanced coordination under T-TIP. Contrary to some claims you might hear, this is not a “race to the bottom” for health and environmental standards. Both the U.S. and EU would retain the sovereign right to take final risk management decisions and maintain current regulatory protections.

  • Enhanced scientific cooperation — Developing criteria for the reliability and quality of scientific data underpinning regulatory decisions, providing opportunities for stakeholder input on emerging scientific issues and considering the impact of new scientific developments on regulatory decisions.
  • Greater transparency in the regulatory process — Making information available when cooperative activity is taking place, and clarity on what issues are being addressed; providing opportunities for stakeholder input to the regulatory process.
  • Data and information sharing — Eliminating unnecessary or duplicative data generation, testing and submission of relevant information, so that regulatory decisions can be made on the basis of consistent data sets, avoiding duplication and unnecessary animal testing.
  • Prioritization of chemicals for review — Enabling governments and industry to focus attention and limited resources on the substances of highest concern through an agreement to establish and apply common principles for prioritization that are clear, specific, and transparent.
  • Coherence in chemical assessment — Reducing costs for both governments and industry by adopting similar chemical assessment procedures and sharing the burden of testing agreed upon priority chemicals, accelerating chemical reviews.
  • Classification and labeling — Promoting consistent communication of hazard information for safe handling and use while reducing the need for dual classifications.

The proposed regulation of endocrine disrupting chemicals in the EU is one current example of potential regulatory divergence between the U.S. and our European counterparts. Greater information-sharing and mutual reliance on the best available science would give regulators on both sides of the Atlantic an opportunity to reach parallel outcomes on a given issue like endocrine disruptors – but it would not bind either side to follow the same approach.

As Inside U.S. Trade reported on November 15, ACC and other industry representatives believe the EU should take a risk-based approach, through which the European Commission would “restrict substances that are proven to have an adverse effect and to determine a level of exposure below which such materials could still be used.”

Currently, the EU is considering a narrow, hazard-based approach to regulating endocrine active substances that provides an incomplete and biased view of potential health and environmental risks of such substances while the U.S. is following a tiered, risk-based approach.

Should the EU not differentiate between products that contain significant quantities of a given substance and those that contain only an incidental amount, for example, it would create public confusion and likely have an enormous cascading effect on a large number of industry sectors important to both the U.S. and EU.

So far, the U.S. EPA and European Commission have expressed a desire to work with each other on a more coherent approach, as Inside U.S. Trade reports:

[quote]…EPA and the commission ‘have expressed a mutual interest in working collaboratively to ensure global harmonization in how endocrine-disrupting chemicals and their potential impacts are defined and characterized.’ The official said the agency ‘anticipates continued dialogue on the scientific issues with the EU, as appropriate within the EU decision-making process.’[/quote]

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