Globally aligned beauty industry: political instability and ‘trade war’ a threat

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Globally aligned beauty industry: political instability and ‘trade war’ a threat
How much is the recent international political instability and the related ‘trade wars’ with between the US and Europe a concern for our industry? We get an expert’s perspective.

John Chave, Director-General of the Cosmetics Europe​​ industry association - representing the interests of the whole European market - spoke to CosmeticsDesign at the organisation’s recent Annual Conference.

In this interview, Chave discusses global regulatory alignment, threats from an unstable international political landscape, sustainability, and more.

This is part three of our conversation. Discover part one​​ and two​​.

Why bother aligning different markets?​​

It’s very important that we do [have a globally aligned industry]. The majority of our countries of course act globally, and we’re not just talking about big multinational companies.

If you go to countries like Italy, or France, or Spain or Poland, to take just a few examples, then you have a lot of smaller SME type companies who are very much engaged in export, so global regulatory compatibility is something that we’ve been working towards and will continue to work towards in our association.

And in this respect, we’ve seen some positive developments.

China, of course, is a huge market. The Chinese market is not yet aligned with our European market, but there are positive signs that China is moving, at least gently and slowly, in the right direction. Similarly with India. New regulations are also being discussed in places like Israel and Taiwan,

So on the positive side, we do feel that the regulatory approach that we have in Europe is influential, and there is an international openness to it.

Trade wars challenge​​

On the negative side, of course, we were somewhat surprised and disappointed to be caught up in the trade war which is happening.

When Donald Trump announced his tariffs on steel and aluminium, the European Commission included cosmetic products in its retaliatory measures, which are due to be approved very, very shortly. [This list was approved on June 22, following our interview.]

Also Canada, in its own response to Donald Trump, has included some cosmetic products among retaliatory measures.

This is a little bit of a concern and something we didn’t really anticipate.

While you might say that on the regulatory front, we’ve seen positive moves towards greater compatibility, or greater alignment, to be caught up in this trade war - who knows what’s going to happen, how long it is going to last, how fundamental the damage will be - has to be a concern. And not just for the big players in our industry, but also the SMEs.

Instability is a concern for any trading industry.

What we want is a stable, growing world. We want a rule-based trade order, and of course we’re not the only industry which wants to see this.

And what is happening now, particularly with regards to the trade order, is inevitably a cause for concern.

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