ICCA Statement on Promoting Global Chemicals Trade in the 21st Century

ICCA is a dedicated supporter of free trade and the rules-based, multilateral trading system as embodied by the World Trade Organization (WTO). Its 164 members today represent over 98 percent of international trade. We view the WTO as the champion for fostering economic growth and innovation, establishing fair competition, and driving foreign investment and development around the world. The chemical industry, in particular, is the enabler industry, serving as the key input for 96% of all manufacturing and a solution provider for major global environmental and societal challenges. Our industry stands to benefit when the WTO addresses both tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade in chemicals and in sectors that consumer chemicals.

The global chemical industry engages in over $2 trillion in world trade. Free and open trade raises standards of living, lifts people out of poverty, connects people and businesses with one another across the world, fosters innovation in manufacturing and agriculture while enabling governments, organizations, and individuals to make our world more sustainable and ensure greater prosperity for our children and future generations.

To further these goals, our associations, collectively under the ICCA, are launching a new initiative at this year’s WTO Public Forum to support a modernized, progressive WTO agenda and foster more competitive and sustainable global chemicals trade, and therefore global manufacturing trade and investment. In line with investment facilitation and in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, this initiative will increase understanding and establish best practices on rules to encourage investment and growth in chemicals, and in the entire manufacturing value chain.

To support this vision, ICCA will work with WTO Members to:

  • Renew the global commitment towards free trade under the WTO’s rules-based multilateral trade system and/or through regional or plurilateral agreements;
  • Raise awareness about the contribution of chemicals manufacturing to the wide range of societal objectives and goals of importance to the WTO Membership;
  • Set a positive WTO trade agenda, for example through WTO multilateral, plurilateral agreements or WTO-compatible regional or bilateral agreements between WTO Members; and,
  • Promote regulatory cooperation on chemicals issues across all regions.

To ensure the success of this initiative, ICCA urges WTO Members to cease and roll back the escalation of tariff increases and to tackle the underlying challenges that threaten support for trade – i.e. the lack of progress regarding tariff liberalization, enforcement options to ensure fair competition, rules-setting on subsidies and state interventions, and the Dispute Settlement crisis.

Without a focus on the root cause of trade challenges, tariff increases will only further distort trade and disrupt supply chains. Tariff increases will hit the chemical industry by closing markets both to chemical exports and exports of finished products using chemicals in their production, including agricultural goods and automobiles and by raising costs of production due to higher prices for imports. Tariff leads to increasing uncertainty, delaying or even undermining investments decisions.

Now is an opportunity to reverse this disturbing trend and refocus on a productive agenda for trade. ICCA calls on like-minded national chemistry associations to join together and promote free trade, tariff and non-tariff barrier elimination through the multilateral system and/or regional and plurilateral agreements and enhance opportunities for global growth in trade in chemicals.