Today, in a preamble to INDEX™, the World’s leading Nonwovens Exhibition, more than 100 senior executives from the nonwovens industry and its supply chain gathered in Geneva. Companies were present following the invitation of EDANA, IANFA and INDA and their partner nonwovens associations from across the globe, around the theme “The rising importance of nonwovens and global value chains”.
Hosuk LEE-MAKIYAMA, Director of the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE), told the audience “The technology and application of nonwovens has redefined the daily life and also reshaped the economics of the textile industry. As trade and investment become increasingly important ‐ specialisation, value chain fragmentation and market access have become key policy questions for industry competitiveness. How do economies stay on top of this globalisation game? The trade issues on nonwovens are also heavily impacted by cross‐sectoral regulatory aspects, for example medical devices, automobiles ‐ which are all addressed in major 'next generation' Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) like TTIP and TPP.”
The keynote speaker debated with the audience what the nonwovens industry should expect - and not expect - from the changing landscape and these trade agreements, and suggested to the leading global nonwovens associations to consider applying for a sector agreement under WTO that would liberalise multilaterally nonwovens trade, with potential benefits greater than regional or bilateral arrangements. Additionally, Mr Lee-Makiyama said that making the case for a nonwoven-sector agreement for zero tariffs should not be impossible.
The obstacles to this “ideal” of free and fair trade as defended by EDANA were not underestimated.
The conference and debate took place in the presence of Mr Jean-François Aguinaga, Head of the Textiles Unit of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry, who addressed the audience on the status of FTA’s being negotiated by the EU with the USA and Japan.