On September 25, CIAC participated in a NAFTA panel discussion in Ottawa hosted by iPolitics. The discussion focused on the North American chemistry sector’s role in the current NAFTA negotiations and included David Podruzny, CIAC Vice-President Business and Economics, Greg Skelton, American Chemistry Council (ACC) Senior Director for Technical Affairs and Guillermo Miller, International Affairs & Economics Vice President, of the Asociación Nacional de la Industria Química (ANIQ) in Mexico.
The hour-long discussion focused on the joint statement released by the three associations earlier this year outlining the benefits the North American chemistry industry has delivered through NAFTA over the past 23 years, and the consensus advice they provided to NAFTA negotiators in early September on the important issues of Rules of Origin and Regulatory Cooperation under a modernized NAFTA.
“The sector is growing globally, so there’s an opportunity for the three countries to be part of that growth, take advantage of it and take advantage of market access,” Podruzny said.
Additionally, Podruzny highlighted the benefits of a robust chemistry sector to North America’s economy. “Chemistry is larger in trade than motor vehicles. It also touches most of the other sectors of the economy. . . more than 95 per cent,” he said.
Skelton emphasized a need to keep certain parts of NAFTA intact – including keeping tariff-free trade on chemicals in North America. However, he also stressed the importance of modifying the 23-year-old agreement to meet modern needs, since trade has changed over the past two decades.
Skelton said there is currently a lack of coordinated regulation across North American chemistry industries, which has led to inadvertent trade barriers that do nothing to enhance human health or environmental protections.
“The chemical industry is a highly regulated sector around the world, and it needs to be,” Skelton said.
A modernized NAFTA could address regulatory issues which currently present implicit barriers to trade between the three countries.
Additionally, Miller argued that the key priorities for a modernized NAFTA are to increase trade and decrease the overhead costs of trade. He emphasized that a modernized NAFTA should allow the North American chemistry sector to compete more efficiently in the global chemistry industry.