Both economies have a long tradition in the nonwovens industries, with a focus on product innovation and economic investment helping to pioneer the industry. Both the EU and Japan have long enjoyed the status of technology leaders, to the extent that specialized machinery from these countries have been widely exported to the rest of the world. Additionally, the whole supply chain, from fibers and polymers to finished products, has benefited from Japan-EU nonwovens trade, with more complementarities than real competition between their respective specialties say the organizations.
The organizations also say trade in nonwovens between Japan and Europe is of significant value and volume, making up a majority of the textile trade in which most nonwovens are included.
In 2012, according to EUROSTAT figures the trade in nonwovens (as only partly indicated by figures of HS subheadings 560311 to 560399) between Japan and the EU, amounted to €59,931,115 and 12,220 tons (EU to Japan) and € 55,129,031 and 2,900 tons (Japan to EU).
A number of nonwovens however escape the “textile” categorization in HS chapter 56 and fall into the paper categories under HS chapter 48. Moreover, trade in industrial, semi-finished (e.g. filtration and automotive nonwovens) and converted consumer (hygiene/personal care) or professional (e.g. personal protective clothing and medical devices) products includes nonwovens which may thus be traded indirectly in substantial quantities.
According to a preliminary consultation of member companies of both the European and Japanese nonwovens associations, there are no important outstanding issues of concern, such as significant technical barriers to trade, but both associations are committed to help solving these, should some appear. In any case this should not prevent negotiators from both sides to consider that based on industry consensus from both parties, elimination of the tariff duties, which are at exactly the same level in both directions (4.3%) since the end of implementation of the WTO’s Uruguay Round in the 1990’s, can be tabled at the next possible opportunity during the on-going negotiations.
“We are very glad to announce this agreement with EDANA, and expect this will promote the negotiation of Japan-EU FTA, also expect the tariff elimination will contribute further mutual development of nonwovens industry," says Kazuhisa Inoue, ANNA’s chairman.
“We are very pleased to have reached this consensus with our partners from Japan. With the EU-US and EU-Canada FTA’s liberalizing trade in nonwovens as well, our next big priorities are China and the Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela)," says Pierre Wiertz EDANA’s general manager. “Those countries, whose nonwoven trade associations are partners and already aligning with us on a number of items, can no longer justify the high duty rates they maintain on nonwovens as if they were developing economies. In addition, these measures may be counterproductive for their own converting industries."