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Obama’s second term and the chemical industry: regulation and opportunity

January 9th, 2013

A recent article in Chemistry World (December 2012) highlighted two contrasting responses to Barack Obama’s continuing occupancy of the White House. Some in industry see him as supporting increasing regulation, thereby making trading conditions harder in the US. Others see increasing regulation as providing a way in which to differentiate between ‘commodity’ and ‘high-tech’ suppliers.

However, supposedly less-developed nations are investing heavily in research, and wages there are increasing, with workers starting to demand better conditions. The stereotypical images are fading fast.

Problems create opportunities. The problem faced by the US, Japan and the European nations is that, unless the chemical industry embraces innovation, eastern nations will become better at the technology as well as costing less. Therefore surely the only way forward is to face the challenges and to innovate in every possible way? The US chemical industry ought not to to resist regulation at all costs, and should recognise that holding onto substances and processes that have a poor acceptability profile is not a strategy for success. We at Peter Fisk Associates want our work to contribute to a forward-looking chemical industry that meets the challenges of the 21st century with responsibility and innovation.