The International Trade Administration’s (ITA) Market Access and Compliance (MAC) unit led a government-wide effort to exclude PVC (polyvinylchloride) from the European Union’s list of restricted substances used in electrical and electronic equipment (known as the revised RoHS Directive). As a result, The Vinyl Institute located in Alexandria, Virginia, which represents PVC manufacturers, estimates that $137 million of U.S. exports to the EU were preserved.
Why it Matters: PVC is commonly used as a flame retardant and insulation in electrical wires, power cords, and control devices. PVC is also crucial in making washing machines. U.S. industry was concerned that an EU restriction on PVC would have forced them to replace PVC in their manufacturing process, not only in the EU but worldwide. The costs to do so would have been prohibitive.
The Problem: In 2010, the European Parliament proposed adding PVC to a list of banned substances as part of its revisions to the EU RoHS Directive. Banning PVC would have led to a prohibition of PVC in products such as washing machines, electrical wires, power cords and control devices.
The Solution: ITA brought together representatives from U.S. industry, trade associations and government to avert this costly EU proposal. Representatives from the U.S. Mission to the EU worked with their counterparts at the Commission and the European Parliament to ensure U.S. industry’s perspective was fully considered. In Washington, senior ITA officials engaged commercial officials at key EU embassies. ITA worked with the State Department to share industry views with key environmental officials in various European Union Member State governments. As a result of this coordinated, cooperative, government-wide effort, the EU decided against adding PVC to the list of substances under review, saving an estimated $137-million in U.S. exports to Europe.
Wayne Morris, Vice President of Division Services of the Association of Home Appliances (AHAM) noted, “The Commerce Department was uniquely positioned to assist the business community by bringing together the U.S. Mission to the EU, USTR, and several key offices at Commerce headquarters to rapidly react to this ill-conceived proposed regulation.”
Allen Blakey, Vice President, Industry and Government Affairs at the Vinyl Institute added, “The companies whose manufacturing jobs were protected are grateful for the Department’s good work.”
Working closely with U.S. companies, MAC creates, expands and defends market access for U.S. goods and services overseas. “We promote policy that develops a more favorable business climate for U.S. companies in global markets; we employ commercial diplomacy to resolve trade barriers; and we leverage our bilateral and multilateral trade agreements to ensure our trading partners live up to their commitments so that our businesses can compete on a level-playing field.” - Assistant Secretary for Market Access and Compliance, Michael C. Camuñez.