The main aspects tackled at the Forum’s General Assembly covered global trends in consumption and production, the impact of the economic and financial crisis on the sector and the persistence of tariff and technical barriers to trade. Most importantly, the Forum focussed on environment and climate change related policies or tools.
Global trends in production: World production has been constantly rising over the last years with an estimate of 5,7 billion m2 in 2001 increasing to 8,2 billion m2 in 2007. The world production rose to 8,5 billion m2 in 2008 but is expected to remain at the same level in 2009. While tiles consumption is continuing to grow in Asia, regions including Europe, Japan and the USA have shown very significant decreases in 2008. Due to the economic and financial crisis these decreases will further accentuate in 2009 with sales decreasing from 20% to 50% in some countries. The biggest producer in 2008 was by far China followed by Brazil, Italy and Spain.
Constant rate of technical barriers to trade: Technical barriers to trade under the form of diverging standards or disproportionate tariffs have traditionally been widely used in this sector in order to protect domestic industries. This trend remains unchanged and is even more harmful to the industry in a situation of economic crisis.
Coordination on environmental standards and environmental protection: In spite of this difficult context, the industry continues to adapt to the rapid changes in demand notably through innovation and the adaptation of international standards. Moreover, this session of the Forum allowed for the first time at international level extensive exchanges of information on how environmental protection and measures against climate change are being addressed by the industry in different parts of the world. More particularly, the Forum members discussed developments in energy efficiency, greenhouse gas reduction, environmental labelling and green public procurement.
As stated in his conclusions by Mr. Schäfer, Chairman of the Forum, “it is extremely important that tiles manufacturers cooperate more at international level on environmental protection, technical standards and barriers to trade”. The Forum gathers every year more tiles manufacturing countries and is offering a platform for this cooperation.
The 17th session of the Forum will be hosted by Indonesia in Jakarta from Wednesday 30 June to Saturday 3 July 2010.