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US seeks answers on illegal European HFC trade

USA: The USA plans to engage with the EU on the issue of illegal HFC refrigerant imports, which, it says, are negatively affecting US exporters of environmentally friendly alternatives.

The comments in the recently published 2021 edition of the USA’s National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE) are prompted by the widespread black market in refrigerants created by the EU’s F-gas phase down.

The publishers of the report, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), says it will also involve the countries recognised as sources of the illegal imports in an effort to resolve the issue.

“These HFC imports undermine the demand for and sale of environmentally friendly alternative refrigerants, of which US industry is a significant global supplier,” the report says.

The European Fluorocarbon Technical Committee, which represents refrigerant manufacturers including major US producers Chemours and Honeywell, has previously reported that the level of illegal imports could be as high as 33% of the legally allowed quota.

“US stakeholders have expressed concern that insufficient oversight and enforcement of the F-Gas Rule allows for widespread import of HFCs that exceed and are not accounted for under the EU’s quota system. These imports negatively affect US exporters of environmentally friendly alternative refrigerants and undermine stated EU F-Gas Rule environment objectives,” the report states.

It repeats concerns that some HFCs labelled for re-export from the EU ultimately end up in the EU market. Further, the USTR and US stakeholders are also said to be concerned that HFCs are being trafficked without the knowledge of customs officials. It pinpoints hidden or falsely declared shipments and imports unaccounted for when already integrated in equipment containing HFCs.

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