Promoting the GHS
The CD has been active in promoting the implementation of the United Nation's Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) by APEC member economies. The GHS is a set of guidelines aimed at simplifying regulations and labelling requirements, as well as improving safety and environmental protection. Over the years the CD has conducted numerous workshops to provide economies with information on the GHS and to build capacity to facilitate its adoption.
In 2008, APEC Ministers endorsed a report of the CD's Virtual Working Group on GHS implementation issues titled “Developing Clarity and Consistency in the Implementation of the Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals” as an APEC contribution to the UN's Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). The SAICM is a policy framework aimed at promoting chemical safety around the world and is an initiative of the United Nations Environment Program.
APEC has also shown regional leadership by contributing the ground-breaking APEC Best Practices for Chemical Regulation to the SAICM framework. The guidelines were formulated by APEC officials and industry representatives.
Representatives of the Chemical Dialogue presented the Best Practices for Chemical Regulation and the GHS Virtual Working Group reports to the second session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management in Geneva, Switzerland, in May 2009.
The Dialogue is also addressing APEC member economies' and regional manufacturers' concerns about the potentially trade-distorting effects of the European Union's system surrounding its Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) legislation.
The CD has taken on the task to coordinate APEC engagement with the EU on these issues and in 2008 transmitted to the European Commission a set of questions and letters on REACH implementation.
Workshop on the Risk Assessment of Metals and Metal Compounds
A Workshop on the Risk Assessment of Metals and Metal Compounds was successfully held on 28-29 August 2015, on the margins of the Third Senior Officials Meeting in Cebu, Philippines, with 57 trainees from 15 APEC economies and three non-APEC economies.
The workshop taught trainees to identify several key differences in the assessment of metals and metal compounds compared with the traditional risk assessments for organic chemicals. These were:
- The different physicochemical properties of metals and metal compounds intimately affect their toxicity and bioavailability to organism—hence these properties must be well characterized by the assessor;
- The specific physicochemical properties of environmental media in turn impact on the physicochemical properties of metals and metal compounds—hence, the local chemistry of environmental media needs to be profiled when determining the toxicity and bioavailability of metals and metal compounds; and
- As many metals are essential for life, the different sensitivities of local environmental organisms need to be profiled in order to accurately determine the toxicity of metals and metal compounds under local conditions.
Chemical Dialogue Regulators' Forum
To support and complement the work of the CD, a Chemical Dialogue Regulators' Forum has been established with regular meetings commencing in 2009. The objectives of the Forum are to:
- Facilitate risk reduction and the sound management of chemicals across the APEC region as an APEC contribution to the UN's Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM)
- Share information and knowledge on chemicals management more broadly in the region, with the increased and direct involvement of regulators
- Bridge principles and practice—sharing tools and experience with best practices and plan opportunities for collaboration to address common concerns
- Discuss the nexus between chemicals management and competitiveness (including for small and medium enterprises), with a view to facilitating trade while protecting human health and the environment
Expected Outcomes/Deliverables for 2017
- An endorsement of the 2017 work plan for the Virtual Working Group on Regulatory Cooperation
- The start of the implementation of a self-funded one-year capacity building program for chemical regulators, including a workshop to be hosted at the Third Senior Officials Meeting of 2017;
- The submission of an annual report on GHS implementation across APEC economies to the Ministers Responsible for Trade;
- An update of the GHS Reference Exchange and Tool (G.R.E.A.T.) online platform to conform to APEC guidelines;
- A survey of APEC economies on chemical import procedures and a report of the results to the CD and the Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures;
- Beginning of the development of recommendations to address unnecessary barriers to, or divergences in regulatory requirements applicable to chemical imports;
- The finalization of a report on the economic importance of the chemical industry to APEC economies and a report to the APEC Committee on Trade and Investment, the Senior Officials Meeting, and to APEC ministers as appropriate;
- The conduct of capacity-building information sharing on GHS implementation choices as a follow-up to the 2016 GHS implementation workshop;
- The endorsement of a 2017 work plan for the Virtual Working Group on Marine Debris. The work plan covers
- contributions to the work of the APEC Regulatory Cooperation Advancement Mechanism on Trade-Related Standards and Technical Regulations (ARCAM) on sustainable materials management
- partnering with the APEC Finance Ministers
- expanding cross-fora collaboration
- convening a high-level meeting—a follow-on of a high-level meeting held in Tokyo in support of waste management
- Support of the Ocean and Fisheries Working Group (OFWG) in their plans to host a follow-up high-level workshop to address barriers to financing waste management