EU rule looms for exporters

By Jiang Wei
Updated: 2007-08-10 09:06

Exporters of energy-using products have been told to get ready for a new EU environmental protection regulation that will take effect from tomorrow.

The EU directive on the eco-design of energy-using products (EuP) will affect all links in the industry chain - from design, manufacturing and transport to disposal.

So said an official from the bureau of fair trade for imports and exports under the Ministry of Commerce, but he declined to be named.

The directive will influence the trade of all energy-using products except vehicles and will have "a direct impact on companies involved in the machinery and electronics industries, chemicals and metallurgy", he said.

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The EuP directive was announced in 2005 and aims to reduce environmental harm. Products will be required to meet power consumption guidelines set by the European Union. Most manufacturers will also have to do lifecycle assessments of their products to determine environmental impact.

In the short term, the directive will increase companies' outlay in product development - including research, environmental impact assessment, procurement of technologies and patents, and energy consumption testing, the official said.

"In the medium and long term, however, firms can lower their costs by optimizing design, controlling materials during manufacture and reducing disposal costs, because environmental impact will be factored into their strategies," he said.

Companies "shouldn't see it as an increase in costs or view as a loss any decline in exports as a result of the directive". But he suggested firms exporting in certain areas to the European Union get prepared for the change.

Most exporters have been preparing for the regulation since it was announced several years ago, said Chen Yansheng from the China Association of Lighting Industry.

He said a small number of exporters could give up on the EU market if they don't think they'll meet the requirements of the directive.

The EuP directive will eventually become law in EU member countries.

It follows three other EU directives on environment protection: RoHS, banning individual hazardous substances; WEEE, on the disposal of electronic products; and REACH, restricting the use of chemicals.

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