NEW YORK, Dec. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Regulatory and trade issues were the dominate topics at the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) press conference in New York City on Monday. SOCMA President Larry Sloan and Vice President of Government Relations Bill Allmond took a few moments before the association's 92nd Annual Dinner to highlight SOCMA's accomplishments over the past year and to give a brief overview of their legislative priorities for 2014.
Sloan opened the press conference noting the good working relationship SOCMA has developed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Among 2013 policy "wins," Sloan counted the EPA's decision to withdraw a proposed rule that would have required chemical companies to publicly divulge highly propriety information about new chemicals. Sloan also noted SOCMA's positive interactions with Administrator McCarthy.
"SOCMA appreciates its good working relationship with [Ms.] McCarthy," Sloan said. "We have had the pleasure of meeting with her twice over the past year. She is highly engaging and appreciates the type of candor that SOCMA and our members have provided her about the resource burden that EPA imposes on specialty chemical manufacturing. We won't always agree, but I am confident that Ms. McCarthy is sensitive to SOCMA's concerns and will continue to engage us on issues of mutual interest or concern."
Both Sloan and Allmond recognized that with slow legislative movement in 2013 paired with continued partisan tension in Congress and the mid-term election cycle gearing up in a few months will make passing legislation like reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and reauthorization of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) a challenge.
"Nevertheless, SOCMA and its members will be quite active on Capitol Hill, pushing our priorities through activities like the Annual Washington Fly-in, where we bring our industry CEOs to Congress so they can press their case with their Representatives and Senators," Allmond said.
Going forward, SOCMA's principal message for Capitol Hill and federal agencies will continue to focus on policies that make the specialty chemical industry more competitive and expand its industry markets. Allmond believes that international free trade agreements will help drive that agenda in 2014.
"It's important for members of our organization to work collaboratively with the government to seek new global markets and remove any regulatory barriers that would hinder industry expansion," Allmond said. "Major growth areas in the specialty chemicals industry are in the emerging regions such as Asia due to an increase in manufacturing in those regions. So our [SOCMA and the government] collaboration has got to continue into next year."
Allmond also reported that SOCMA has been quite active in negotiations between the U.S. and E.U.—the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)—which, if ratified, would be the largest trade agreement ever negotiated.
"Data show that the U.S. chemical industry stands to benefit the most from an FTA with the E.U. – over $1.0 billion in duties were assessed on U.S. chemical exports last year. Organic chemicals would benefit the most, saving US chemical manufacturers that export these chemicals nearly $600 million," Allmond said.
"There are some regulatory barriers that SOCMA has identified that need to be addressed between the U.S. and E.U.," Allmond said. The most significant among these barriers is the E.U.'s "REACH policy," which is especially onerous on U.S. specialty chemical manufacturers. Allmond provided this perspective to the International Trade Commission during testimony in November.
"Free trade agreements are very important to the U.S. chemical industry," Allmond said. "They continue to be a way for specialty chemical manufacturers to fairly access foreign markets and positively contribute to the growth of the U.S. economy. These agreements support domestic manufacturing jobs by offering access for our competitive, innovative products."
SOCMA will continue to track its policy initiatives through SpecialityManufacturing.org—a resource website that explains how policies that encourage market competition and global expansion are beneficial to the specialty chemical industry.
Senior Manager, PR & Media
SOURCE Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates