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ACC-CIA

ACC and CIA set out trade deal priorities

Six days after the US and the UK began formal negotiations for a post-Brexit bilateral trade deal on 5 May, representatives from the respective industry associations, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the Chemical Industries Association (CIA) jointly published some comments outlining their priorities.

“With the uncertainty swirling around Brexit and the COVID-19 crisis, a trade agreement between the UK and the USA will help ensure both countries maintain critical market access during this unprecedented and challenging time,” said Steve Elliott, chief executive of the CIA.

The two said that they strongly support “the negotiation of a high-standard, market-opening, comprehensive agreement”. Given the central importance of chemicals to manufacturing industry, this “has the potential to establish a durable and lasting economic pillar for the UK-US special relationship”, they added.

Integral to all this is for the UK to join the US and other members in working to establish the WTO Chemical Tariff Harmonisation Agreement (CTHA), establishing agreed tariffs on chemicals and plastics. The associations also advocated the following:

* Full and immediate tariff elimination for Chapters 28-39 of the CHTA upon its entry into force

* “Clear, simple, and transparent” Rules of Origin, avoiding mandatory rules on regional value content and limiting the voluntary use of this rule

* Greater regulatory cooperation as a means of reducing trade barriers and gaining efficiencies for chemical companies, including common principles for information sharing, prioritising chemicals for review and evaluation, and coherence in hazard and risk assessment, particularly as regards the UN Globally Harmonised System for Classification & Labelling

* Support for innovation, including considering the impact on it when considering policy or regulatory decisions. This could include joint steps to incentivise R&D, and establishing policy that rewards economic, public health and environmentally sustainable practices and investments

In 2019, the UK imported $2.8 billion in chemicals from the US, with $2.5 billion travelled the other way. It is estimated that a trade agreement that eliminates tariffs between them could save US and UK chemical manufacturers $76 million and $84 million/year respectively.

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