The European Commission has declined Japan's request to exempt motorcycle parts from new restrictions on the uses of four phthalates – DEHP, DBP, DIBP and BBP – in plasticised materials.
The Commission said in a response published 19 September that for motorcycle parts containing phthalates such as "seats, handlebars, pedals and footrest covers", even with motorcycle safety gear and clothing, "dermal contact cannot be excluded and in some cases can be significant".
The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) has previously argued that an EU proposal to restrict the uses of four phthalates could lead to a "de-facto barrier to international trade". The comment was submitted during the consultation period of the notification to the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade in May. Japan's government backed the association's remarks in a separate comment.
JAMA said it was "greatly concerned" that exemptions for the use of four phthalates would apply for motor vehicles but would not be allowed for motorcycles or associated parts despite the shared supply chain between motorcycles and motor vehicles.
To address the potential barrier to trade, JAMA requested:
- increasing the 18-month transition period after the restrictions takes force; and
- ensuring supply chain considerations for shared parts by harmonising implementation dates.
However, the European Commission said that "no specific data has been provided to justify [such exemptions]" and that Japan did not provide any analysis of the risk, analysis of possible alternatives, or substantial impact of the costs and benefits in order to support their claims.
The EU also rejected Japan’s request to extend the 18-month transition period for application of the restrictions on the grounds that lower-risk alternatives are available at similar prices in the EU and internationally.
The proposal was approved unanimously by EU member states in July and the Commission is expected to adopt it later this year.
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