Dubai-based Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) has released a statement calling for the reduction of trade barriers “including high tariffs currently in place that pose as a significant hurdle to the supply of raw materials used for the manufacture of medical and hygiene equipment.”
Ensuring an uninterrupted supply of raw materials is essential to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, it said: “Despite facing significant supply chain disruptions, the GCC chemical industry has stepped up efforts to safeguard the supply of raw materials for the manufacture of products used to enable the hygiene, testing and treatment of patients affected by the virus alongside personal protective equipment for medical staff, as well as ensuring the continued manufacturing of essential food packaging material.”
But, it added: “Trade tariffs imposed prior to the start of the crisis and in the wake of growing global protectionism since mid-2018, combined with border closures in some countries are proving it difficult for chemical raw materials to reach production plants across the world where finished products are made.”
GPCA and its members are therefore calling for the reduction of tariffs and the removal of trade barriers “and all bureaucratic hurdles currently in place that pose as a significant challenge to the steady supply of chemical and petrochemical products used for the manufacture of specialised equipment and everyday products amid heightened global demand.”
The call comes days after world leaders pledged in a statement issued during a G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders’ Summit “to ensure the flow of vital medical supplies, critical agricultural products” and “resolve disruptions to the global supply chains”. The statement went on reiterate the G20’s commitment to a free, fair and stable trade and investment environment, and to keep markets open.
All GCC countries have consented to the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) that aims to simplify, modernise and harmonise import and export procedures and processes. As the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic amplifies the need for international cooperation and the removal of trade barriers, GPCA and its members are urging regulators to speed up the full implementation of the TFA.
Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA, said: “In the current crisis, the role of the chemical industry in ensuring the steady and reliable supply of vital raw materials and products has never been more pronounced. As medical facilities in the region are starting to feel the strain from the pandemic, businesses are continuing to manufacture, in difficult circumstances, the various tools, safety equipment and personal protective equipment such as sterile gloves, masks, hand sanitizers and protective clothing urgently needed to protect the health and safety of people and medical personnel.”
He added: “At the same time, we depend on FMCG companies to continue to ensure the supply of items such as cleaning products as well as packaged food and beverages. The GCC chemicals industry is safeguarding the supply of raw materials to these sectors and reducing or even removing related bureaucratic hurdles will help secure their timely supply. Eliminating tariffs on these essential products will also reduce the costs on medical facilities and GCC consumers who are already under financial strain.”
Mutlaq H. Al-Morished, Chairman, International Trade Committee, GPCA and CEO, Tasnee, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis that is impacting not only our health and wellbeing but also trade, businesses and livelihoods in the Arabian Gulf region and globally. It is imperative that no efforts are spared to secure the robustness of the medical infrastructure within the Arabian Gulf region, while also maintaining a stable socioeconomic environment.”
“With the chemical industry supporting critical value chains during these difficult times, GCC regulators need to deem the chemical and petrochemical industry as critical infrastructure and ensure they are not subjected to forced shutdowns in order to tackle the pandemic.”
For more information visit www.gpca.org.ae