The European Nonwovens industry, as represented by EDANA, is in favour of free and fair trade and improved market access for nonwovens products. EDANA works to facilitate the removal of trade barriers between countries on a reciprocal basis and to instil a level playing field by preventing and, if needed, addressing distortions in the market.
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 nonwovens process is a two step production (a web forming followed by a web bonding) of a fabric directly from fibres or polymer chips.
Conditions of trade have become more and more important for nonwovens manufacturers and converters. If we only consider the European Union, current trade topics are numerous: EFA with Japan and other free trade agreements (with Mercosur, Canada, Australia), Brexit, the pan-Euro-Mediterranean convention, the possible retaliatory tariffs policy promoted by the current US administration. All can impact the nonwovens producers, their suppliers and their customers.
The overarching principle behind EDANA’s activities in the field of trade is the promotion of free and fair trade and improved market access for nonwovens products. Concretely this translates in the facilitation of trade and the removal of tariff and non-tariff trade barriers between countries on a reciprocal basis and maintaining a level playing field by preventing and if needed addressing distortions on markets.
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.
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 nonwovens products of chapters 56.03 and 62. It imposes unnecessary constraints on economic operators. EDANA advocates for modernisation and simplification of preferential rules of origin. The review process also strives for a flexible approach.
Historically nonwovens have been classified in a number of chapters in the harmonized commodity description and coding system (HS) an in national classification systems. The bulk of nonwovens are classified in textiles chapters, which in many cases has led to the imposition of high import duties and the application of double transformation rules of origin, aimed at protecting textile producers.
Nonwovens have experienced an exponential growth, to the extent that they arguably deserve their own chapter and/or a more consistent classification based on raw materials, web-forming and web-bonding methods. Due to their classification in textile chapters, nonwovens are in many cases subject to protectionist measures such as high import tariffs.