Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
Yesterday morning in Brussels, Belgium, a team of American and European plastics professionals gave a timely educational briefing to members and staffers of the European Parliament and other interested parties. The subject was the many and varied high-value contributions that plastics continue to make toward improving humankind’s quality of life, as well as to the materials’ sustainability and many benefits to the environment.
The timing of the event fits well with the currently delayed but still ongoing negotiations for the proposed U.S.-EU free trade agreement known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The plastics industry, a major economic factor on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, of necessity will be a major focal point in the TTIP negotiations.
The briefing was co-organized by Amcham Belgium, the American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium); Assocomaplast, the Italian Plastics and Rubber Processing, Machinery and Moulds Manufacturing Association; and SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association based in Washington, D.C.Michael Taylor, senior director, international affairs and trade at SPI, and a key organizer of the educational event provided perspective:
“There has always been a strong economic case for a transatlantic trade deal,” said Taylor, “but at this point in time the argument in favor is even more compelling. While it’s true that the U.S. plastics industry stands to benefit greatly from improved market access to Europe, SPI member companies are very focused on the millions of dollars that can be saved by achieving regulatory coherence and mutual recognition of standards. This will lower the bar for market entry for both the EU and the U.S.”
It is critical for policy makers such as the European Parliament to better understand how plastics and the plastics industry provide platforms for innovation across sectors such as transportation, healthcare, building and construction, infrastructure, agriculture and many others.
Yesterday’s Euro Parliament presentation was given by leaders from three SPI-Member companies: Werner Van De Sande, business manager of Milliken Chemical in Europe; Paolo Gasparotto, branch sales manager at Moretto Plastics Automation; and Mark Daniels, senior vice president of sustainability and environmental policy at U.S. plastic bag maker and closed-loop film recycler Hilex Poly.
SPI’s Taylor said, “A significant part of what SPI does on a regular basis is educational. Supporting our European colleagues at an event in the European Parliament, where we can speak about the positive contribution of the plastics industry to those who shape policy in the European Union is a major opportunity. It’s vitally important that everyone be aware of how plastics improve the quality of life, from safe and efficient packaging to life-saving and life-sustaining medical devices.”
On the day before the educational presentation, Taylor attended a public hearing held by the European Parliament titled “Trade and Economic Relations with the United States — the regulatory part in the TTIP negotiations.
SPI is a strong supporter of international trade, and Taylor organizes trade missions to countries that offer good markets for SPI member companies. The missions are designed to learn about the country/market first hand and make local connections. Recent SPI trade missions have visited Chile and Panama. Taylor will lead a trade mission to India From December 12th to 16th that will include the Plastivision India 2013 trade fair in Mumbai.