The 21st World Ceramic Tiles Forum (WCTF) was hosted by the China Building Ceramics and Sanitaryware Association (CBCSA) in Shanghai from 12 to 15 November 2014. This year’s edition of the Forum was attended by representatives from Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine and the European Ceramic Tiles Manufacturers’ Association.
Among a number of topics covered, the WCTF addressed key developments in global trade. Members discussed the ongoing review under the 5th cycle of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) of outdated Harmonised System (HS) classification, which determines customs codes for ceramic tiles. Moreover, this session of the Forum presented an opportunity to discuss developments in standardisation at national and international level. Participants also used this fitting occasion to share key trends, challenges and experiences in trade from their respective countries.
With a view to the successful implementation of the new HS codes recently approved under by the WCO, WCTF members agreed on a common approach in the implementation phase of the new HS codes. By 2017, date of their entry into force, the new customs codes will no longer be based on a distinction between glazed and unglazed tiles but rather on three categories of ceramic tiles according to their water absorption percentage (low, medium and high). The international classification will also include two separate groups for mosaic tiles and finishing products. National and regional customs authorities will soon enter into a process to implement these international codes at national level. In that respect, the WCTF stresses the need to simplify customs codes classification. Consequently, it calls on national governments not to introduce any additional sub-distinction other than those approved by the WCO at six digit level.
A successful implementation of the new codes will provide more reliable customs classification and international trade statistics in line with the reality of the production and markets. It will also facilitate the work at customs to the benefit of producers, importers and exporters.
Lastly, the WCTF provided an occasion to explore the developments in international standardisation (ISO). The discussion notably addressed the topics of slipperiness and water absorption test methods. On the latter, the WCTF expressed its support for one single worldwide test method for water absorption, this method being based on the “ISO boil” (ISO standard 10545 -3 (2012)) untilthe work at ISO level results in an agreement on this matter. The WCTF also discussed further cooperation on environmental aspects in the context of the ongoing work at ISO level to develop a sustainability standard for ceramic tiles. Regarding Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), the WCTF agreed to continue its work to promote convergence between existing Product Category Rules (PCR) and ideally to develop an international PCR on the basis of existing PCRs. Such rules are designed to internationally harmonise the method used to develop EPDs. PCR for flooring already exist in the US and EU-wide PCR for ceramic tiles were introduced in June 2014.
The next meeting of the WCTF is scheduled in Sevilla, Spain, from 12 to 14 November 2015. For the first time the Forum will be organised in conjunction with the ISO TC 189 meeting scheduled from 9 to 11 November 2015.
ABOUT THE WCTF
The WCTF was created in 1994 and is the annual meeting of the ceramic tiles manufacturers worldwide. The WCTF is a platform open to all ceramic tiles manufacturers in the world. Any producer or association of ceramic tiles producers wishing to participate is invited to contact the WCTF secretariat at sec[at]cerameunie.eu.