Financial Times
November 30, 2005


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

Carlos Gutierrez, the US secretary of commerce, said US companies
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

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

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."