Free and fair trade
The European Nonwovens industry, as represented by EDANA, is in favour of fair and free trade and improved market access for nonwoven products.
Nonwovens Specificity Versus Textiles
The Nonwovens industry emerged from the textile, paper, plastic and leather industries to become an independent industry. Nonwovens products should be treated differently from textile products because their production processes are fundamentally different. The major difference of the Nonwovens process is the production of a fabric directly from fibres or polymer chips. Textile fabrics are normally produced via multiple-step processes e.g. yarn spinning, weaving or knitting.
This specificity is particularly important with reference to the rules of origin criteria.
Trade Barriers Elimination of Tariff duties
EDANA advocates an early elimination of duties on a reciprocal basis, as the next multilateral negotiations will not be concluded for several years in terms of tariff elimination. To achieve this objective, EDANA believes that sectorial tariff elimination for Nonwovens should be included in the upcoming negotiation.
An ‘early harvest’ tariff elimination will allow the continuation of production in a cost effective and environmentally friendly manner. This should meet the industry’s needs for fair trade ultimately reaching on a reciprocal basis, the objective of zero duties.
The industry needs to obtain fair export access to markets where certain countries maintain abnormally high duties: e.g. Brazil, Canada, China, India Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand (between 11% and 30%). As a matter of comparison, today import duties are 4.3% on HS 56.03 and 0% on HS 48.03 into the EU. It is to be noted that for the other major industrialised countries Japan has the same duties as the E.U.; the U.S.A. has no duties. In this respect, EDANA advocates a 0% tariff into the EU and Japan in order to be reciprocal with the U.S.A.
Preferential duty treatment
EDANA is of the opinion that too restrictive preferential origin treatment is given to processing and working operations, carried out on third country origin material in the EU for producers of nonwoven products of chapters 56.03 and 62. It imposes unnecessary constraints on economic operators. Therefore, EDANA favours modernisation and simplification of preferential rules of origin. The review process also strives for a flexible approach.
Non-Preferential Rules of Origin
Even though under the present negotiation at the WTO (Committee of Rules of Origin for Market Access) it is understood that the change of tariff heading is the basis for change of origin for Nonwovens listed under HS 56.03. However it seems that there are several unsolved specific issues in each sub-category of HS 56.03 e.g. labelling, printing, dyeing which can be relevant to textiles, and not to Nonwovens.
EDANA strongly recommends to the negotiators to the Committee of Rules of Origin for Market Access (CRO) to have the Nonwovens specification built into the rules of origin either as an exception or as a footnote.
The European nonwovens industry needs to continue to successfully compete on the world market. Obstacles to access to raw materials, i.e. anti-dumping duties, should be removed.
Elements of concern are capacity, quality, and realistic price.
On 8th May 2007 the representatives of the Member States endorsed the European Commission proposal to not continue further with the anti-dumping duties in place since 29th December 2006 on imported polyester staple fibres (PSF) from Malaysia and Taiwan. The publication of the 19th June 2007 decision, based for the first time ever on the principle of the “Community interest”, in the EU official of 21st June means the immediate end of the double-digit duties imposed on these imports.
This is an extremely positive development for nonwovens manufacturers, who jointly with EDANA staff, have been strongly lobbying for this outcome. The Commission has recognised that:
“(14) According to users, the imposition of measures will aggravate the shortages of PSF supply because the Community industry is not able to satisfy EU demand. This situation will also play a role in increasing the price of PSF and thus prices of products in the downstream industries, threatening their competitiveness in a market where low-priced imports of finished products play an important role. Under these circumstances, losses in employment in the Community industries using PSF are to be expected in the short term.”
Official Journal of the European Union – 21st June 2007
Following the Commission decision, and as previously stated during EDANA’s address at the European Congress of the Man-Made Fibres Industry in Dornbirn in 2006, EDANA and its member companies which produce nonwovens, reiterate their commitment to constructive dialogue with European polyester fibre suppliers. Together it is possible to take steps to improve specific R&D activities for the nonwoven sector and create new opportunities of win-win situations, like for example in the areas of viscose and lyocell, wetlaid PES fibres, hygiene-specific PES varieties and hydrophilic PP development where European suppliers have much more dynamically addressed specific nonwoven needs.
The practice of non-tariff barriers is not acceptable to the nonwovens industry.
EDANA´s objective in this area is to strongly encourage the establishment of a trade facilitation agreement that benefits everyone. The adoption of a comprehensive, simple and integrated approach, based on internationally accepted standards and best practices is required.