What are the implications of EU circular policies on producers and exporters in developing countries? What can be done to maximize benefits and mitigate potential trade barriers?
These were the main questions around which the discussion revolved during the “Circular policies without borders” - accelerator session co-hosted by UNIDO, Chatham House, Circle Economy, European Investment Bank, SWITCH to Green Facility and DG INTPA at World Circular Economy Forum 2022.
The event was opened by the EU Ambassador to Rwanda, Belén Calvo Uyarra, who reconfirmed the EU’s actions and support towards a circular transformation, with the European Green Deal and the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan. Bernard Crabbé from the European Commission, DG INTPA, as a member of the panel discussion, also confirmed the EU’s commitment to lead a just transition to lower carbon emissions and lean towards the circular economy.
The recent policy paper developed under the Switch to Circular Economy Value Chains project - “The EU’s circular economy transition: Opportunities and challenges for trade partners in emerging markets” was promoted during the event by Patrick Schroeder from Chatham House. The full publication can be found here.
The panel was also joined by Sheryn Ziani from Coalition for Waste Valorization (COVAD) and Masrur Reaz from Policy Exchange, both research institutes from Morocco and Bangladesh, respectively. They provided valuable insights on the policy, trade, and finance context for the circular economy in the plastic packaging and textile sectors in their countries.
Some of the main conclusions from the panel discussion are:
The European Green Deal acts as the roadmap for EU’s vision to get to climate-neutrality by 2050; the EU Circular Economy Action Plan is at the heart of this roadmap and contains measures to make industry and society more circular and resource-efficient; this starts by leading by example in the EU itself and extends to the engagement internationally with manufacturing countries
Three main trends have been identified in the circular economy arena: 1) increasing voluntary circularity commitments by the industry; 2) changes in consumer preferences - partially driven by the recent pandemic which to some extent has shown consumer readiness for lifestyle change; 3) and increased innovation and technology. This is especially evident in material science, with a proliferation of new, recyclable and sustainable materials.
As the largest single-market worldwide, the EU with 27 Member States and a 440 million population remains among the most open markets for developing countries. As such, collaboration and enabling policy environment are needed to create opportunities instead of barriers to trade.
The process of transitioning towards a circular economy is complex and multi-layered. A just transition requires changes at policy, industry, and consumer levels. Support should be provided to producers and exporters in developing countries to increase their capacities to fulfill the circular economy requirements and to be included in the circular transition.
You can watch the full session recording: