“Reach-ing Excellence in the Supply Chain”
FECC Congress 2009
The annual congress of the association of chemical distributors (FECC) takes place in Helsinki, June 22 - 24, 2009. This year's theme is "Reach-ing excellence in the supply chain", focusing on how chemical distributors can achieve successful cooperation with their business partners. Several key players will present their views on the latest developments in the chemicals sector, the industry's reaction to the global slowdown and the major trends that will affect the distributors in particular. CHEManager Europe asked FECC's Director General Hendrik Abma about the highlights of this year's congress, the development and the outlook of the chemical distribution sector.
CHEManager Europe: How can conference-goers benefit from their participation?
H. Abma: We expect to attract between 300 and 400 senior industry players from throughout Europe, U.S., Canada and Asia. The congress delegates, after the main events, will have a complete overview of the current key developments in the industry, both regarding the impact of Reach and the business environment. The additional social events provide a unique opportunity to network and generate new business opportunities as well as reinforcing existing relationships.
What are the highlights of this year's event?
H. Abma: One of the highlights is the panel session on Reach. FECC is pleased to announce our keynote speaker on this topic, Geert Dancet, Executive Director of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), who will share his views on the main challenges for ECHA and the chemical industry as a whole in the (near) future. Speakers from the industry - both manufacturers and distributors - and NGOs will present their views, but also the business opportunities brought by this complex piece of legislation. In addition legal, financial and operational issues will be addressed.
This year is FECC's 55th anniversary. What are the main goals of the association?
H. Abma: FECC's mission is to advocate the interests of the chemical distributors to the EU institutions and to ensure a sustainable business environment for the sector at European level. An efficient chemical distribution sector has a key role in enhancing the competitiveness of the chemicals supply chain and in this context we were very pleased that chemical distributors were represented in the High Level Group on the Competitiveness of the European Chemical Industry. Important is that the High Level Group acknowledged the important role of chemical distribution for the chemical industry as a whole.
What do you think about the final report of the High Level Group?
H. Abma: FECC welcomes the conclusions of the High Level Group. We were proud to contribute to the work of the group. It was the first time that chemical distribution was represented at this forum together with representatives from the European Commission, Ministers and CEOs of the chemical industry, environmental NGOs and consumer organisations.
With several contributions, it was highlighted that chemical distributors play an important role in the innovation process, by identifying customers' demands, developing new and diverse uses for existing chemicals and high research and development intensity in developing new preparations. Chemical distributors bring crucial information upstream that allows researchers to acknowledge and anticipate potential uses of chemicals.
The High Level Group focuses on the competitiveness of the European chemical industry. How important is international trade for the chemical distribution sector?
H. Abma: The increasing importance of the Russian and Eastern European markets, are important factors that will determine the performance of the chemical distribution in Europe, in the coming years. The new challenges ahead need an effective representation at European level.
International trade plays an important role in the activities of our sector and is vital for further growth. Therefore it was decided that the FECC's Russia Round Table will become part of the broader set-up of FECC's International Trade Committee. The intention is that FECC will no longer only address the trade issues related to Russia but will expand its scope to other major chemicals trading partners, such as Turkey, India, and China etc. FECC is continuing the advocacy work to eliminate grey customs and other customs related problems within the framework of its International Trade Committee.
What is your résumé after 55 years of FECC?
H. Abma: The membership of FECC has continuously increased the last few years. Large number of companies and new National Associations recently joined FECC, resulting in a strengthened network and an enhanced representation. We are particularly pleased with the geographical expansion which now includes Eastern and South East Europe and covers all of the EU.
FECC is constantly involved in initiatives with the EU Institutions where input from the European chemical distribution sector is required. The association also plays a leading role in regulatory issues as well as in voluntary codes of conduct and guidance documents in the field of transport of chemicals, related security issues and trade controls. We are in continuous cooperation with the EU Institutions and other stakeholders involved in the chemicals supply chain.
How do FECC's future objectives and priorities look like?
H. Abma: FECC will continue to be actively involved in the EU legislative process, contributing constructively to the debate, ensuring that the specific needs of the sector and the general interests of chemical distributors are taken into account. FECC's input will be in line with our mission and objectives and hence will emphasize the important role of the chemical distribution and the SMEs in an innovative and competitive chemical industry.