Financial Times November 30, 2005 WASHINGTON WORRIED ABOUT DRAFT EU CHEMICALS LAW By Tobias Buck The US on Tuesday raised fresh concerns over the European Union's plans to subject industry to an ambitious new chemicals regulation, stressing that American groups were still not convinced the law was necessary. Carlos Gutierrez, the US secretary of commerce, said US companies were worried about a draft EU law that would force companies to register some 30,000 substances with a new European chemicals agency. The proposed law -- known as Reach (for registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals) -- is one of the most controversial pieces of EU legislation in recent years, and has sparked furious attacks from European business leaders. But Reach has also triggered unrest outside Europe, because it imposes the same regime on companies from abroad that wish to sell their goods in the EU. Like their European counterparts, they would have to demonstrate that the substances they import into Europe pose no threat to humans and the environment, an obligation likely to require expensive testing. "It is something that we believe needs to be looked at very seriously and very carefully. It is a very wide-reaching regulation and we believe it would be very wise to understand all of the implications before proceeding with something that is as massive as Reach," Mr Gutierrez told the Financial Times in an interview yesterday. He added: "The industry and the people we talk to don't fully know where this is going and don't fully understand why this regulation is necessary. They don't understand the full impact of Reach." The commerce secretary's comments came less than two weeks after the European parliament approved the draft legislation. In a move applauded by industry, parliament excluded a large number of substances from the full registration and testing requirements. Elsewhere, however, they made the draft law more onerous for businesses. EU member states - which must also approve the law before it can enter into force - are expected to vote on Reach on December 13. Mr Gutierrez, who was in Brussels for meetings with senior EU officials, also reiterated American concerns over the lax protection of intellectual property rights in some countries, and especially China. He said: "We [the US and the EU] are both very worried and concerned about pirated goods, counterfeited goods. "There are lot of jobs that are affected both in Europe and in the United States because of intellectual property rights violations." The commerce secretary added: "But this is also very important because of safety issue. Statistics show that 10 per cent of all medicine sold worldwide is counterfeit. These are serious health hazards."