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For Immediate Release: May 15, 2009
Contact: Tim Truman  (202) 482-3809

Commerce Department’s Task Force Secures Extension of Metric Labeling Provision that Benefits U.S. Companies

WASHINGTON— The Commerce Department today announced the successful culmination of its efforts to ensure extension of both non-metric and metric labeling provisions on product packaging for U.S. businesses exporting to the European Union—saving U.S. firms hundreds of millions of dollars.

The ruling will allow U.S. firms to use non-metric units on packaging and extends the current dual-labeling provisions indefinitely.  The rule was published on May 7, 2009 in the Official Journal of the European Union and will be fully in force in the 27 member states by January 1, 2010.

“U.S. small and medium manufacturers benefit most from this resolution as the costs to provide metric only labeling is significant,” said Michelle O’Neill, Acting Under Secretary for International Trade. “The efforts of government and industry officials to resolve this long-standing issue will allow business to continue without disruption.”

The Commerce Department’s EU Metric Only Task Force staff worked with EU counterparts and U.S. industry representatives to monitor and provide input for the successful conclusion.

“I commend the EU for this action and extend sincere thanks to all the officials at the Commerce Department and around the U.S. government who have worked hard on this important issue over so many years,” said John Engler, president of the National Association of Manufacturers. “They never gave up and we really appreciate that.”

As a result of the new directive, the United States can continue its efforts to go metric according to its own timeline without facing a major trade barrier in the EU.  The European Parliament adopted the proposed amendment in December 2008.