In the 2000 APEC Ministerial Meeting in Brunei, ministers welcomed an initiative to establish the Chemical Dialogue, comprising of government and industry representatives. Ministers in charge of the chemical industry come from different sectors because it contributes to most other industrial and many non-industrial sectors. Its products are widely traded across borders, and it is a key economic building block in APEC economies.
The Chemical Dialogue (CD) serves as a forum for regulatory officials and industry representatives to find solutions to challenges facing the chemical industry in the Asia-Pacific region. It reflects APEC members' recognition of the importance of engaging with the private sector and of building public-private dialogue and cooperation for the benefit of both sectors.
The CD focuses on chemical-sector liberalization, chemical trade facilitation by improving regulatory policies and practices. It seeks workable programs which ensure that regulatory, safety, and environmental goals can be implemented by both governments and businesses.
The CD’s primary goals are articulated in its 2011–2013 Strategic Framework, which was endorsed by APEC Ministers in 2011, and which were updated in 2016.
The CD endorsed a revised version of the framework at the CD’s 17th meeting in Lima, Peru (CD17), to govern its work from 2017 to 2019. The revised framework is organized around the following three revised shared goals:
- To facilitate trade by expanding and supporting regulatory cooperation and mutual recognition in the region
- To promote understanding of the chemical industry’s role as a provider of innovative solutions for sustainable economic, environmental and social development
- To enable effective cooperation between industry and governments to improve chemical product stewardship and safe use
The CD has maintained its focus on regulatory cooperation efforts throughout its tenure. Following a series of workshops in 2019, the CD focused on next steps in 2020—such as additional capacity building for priority items resulting from in-person meetings. The CD will continue to hold different events for CD member economies in 2019-2020 on the following topics:
- Regulatory impact assessments in the chemical sector
- To evaluate comments received during public consultations on chemical regulation implementation or revision
- Principles-based chemical regulation
- Tools for collecting exposure information to enable implementation of risk-based approaches to chemical management
- Risk Assessment
- Marine Debris Management
- Research on Rules of Origin (“ROO”) for chemical products in recent APEC free-trade agreements (FTAs) and regional trade agreements (RTAs)
The Chemical Dialogue (CD) continues to discuss ways to contribute to APEC's overarching goals of trade liberalization and business facilitation.
The CD program focuses on the challenges imposed by different approaches to regulation, including the difficulty in balancing the protection of trade secrets and confidential information with the need for transparency, facilitating data exchange and the varying regulatory approaches to the treatment of chemicals.
The CD also continues to put emphasis on the integration of its work with the international chemicals agenda, including the United Nation’s Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).
LATIN America Regulatory Cooperation Forum
The CD held a “LATIN America Regulatory Cooperation Forum” on 24 August in Puerto Varas, Chile. It is an APEC self-funded project (CD01 2019S) proposed by the United States.
APEC member economies—from Australia, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Chinese Taipei, United States, Argentina and Brazil—were represented by government and industry participants. There were six roundtable discussions on a range of regulatory cooperation topics (international chemical management, SAICM, obstacles to regulatory cooperation, regulatory cooperation in trade agreements and through bilateral mechanisms, and progress on regulatory cooperation in Latin America), and the participants were highly engaged and understanding of the process and concepts of risk assessment.
The recommendations from the workshop are as follows:
- Industry to identify a nominee to participate in the Latin American Regulator Network
- Include a standing agenda item on the CD plenary agenda to report out on activities undertaken by CD member economies to promote regulatory cooperation
- Organize a similar event in 2020 in Malaysia’s host year to focus on regional regulatory cooperation efforts in chemicals within Asia, particular Southeast Asia
- Draft a report on the range of regulatory cooperation mechanisms available in the chemical sector, from information sharing, through memorandums of understanding, to seconded officials, and FTA text, with examples of where each has been implemented
- Develop a toolkit that builds on the report above that can be used by regulators seeking to promote regulatory cooperation efforts, regardless of their stage of development
- Begin discussions on a CD endorsed template for a sectoral annex to promote regulatory cooperation in chemicals, potentially modeled after the chemical annex agreed to as part of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
Risk Assessment Workshop
The CD Regulatory Forum 2019 convened a Risk Assessment Workshop on 24 August in Puerto Varas, Chile.
APEC member and nonmember economies/countries—from Australia, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Chinese Taipei, United States, Argentina and Brazil—were represented by their government and industry participants to the events, and were highly engaged and understanding of the process and concepts of risk assessment.
The recommendations of workshop are as follows:
- Work towards a commitment by economies to use risk assessments on chemical substances conducted by other competent authorities in other economies, taking into account of exposure scenarios in their own jurisdictions
- Develop APEC good practices on risk assessments for chemical substances and recommendations for capacity building to help economies apply those good practices
- Urge Australia to present a case study on its risk assessment approach at CD 25 in 2020 in Malaysia
- Develop an APEC CD report on past risk assessments for potential use by APEC economies, drawing from existing work by the OECD or other sources.
- Prioritize an APEC concept note for a second risk assessment workshop at CD 25 in 2020 in Malaysia
Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals
The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (or GHS) is an internationally agreed-upon system created by the United Nations.
It is designed to replace the various classification and labelling standards used in different economies by using consistent criteria for classification and labelling on a global level.
At the 21st Chemical Dialogue (CD) meeting in Papua New Guinea in 2018, the CD agreed to a new reporting mechanism on GHS implementation focused on identifying strategies to improve GHS convergence by Member Economies. The CD also supported trialing a new Questionnaire with a view to providing a new report to Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) in 2019.
The MRT Joint Statement 2018 in noting the annual GHS implementation report welcomed CD efforts to address issues in relation to industrial chemicals referencing reducing divergence for classification and labelling.
Australia Industry has come out with new questionnaire and encourage CD members to complete the GHS Implementation Convergence Questionnaire. The Questionnaire is focused on identifying any information that may assist in convergent implementation of GHS across the regions. It seeks information relating to the GHS revisions implemented, plans for future updates of GHS implementation and identification of discussion for a convergent implementation of GHS.
Based on the result of questionnaire, Australia will prepare a GHS Report to the MRT 2020.
Clearinghouse Website for GHS Labelling
Responding to the needs of the chemical industry, the CD created a website in 2010 that collects and provides GHS-standardized labelling elements in local languages: the website is called the GHS Reference Exchange and Tool, or G.R.E.A.T., and it is managed by Chinese Taipei.
Authorities and stakeholders in the chemical industry can find translations of labelling terms for hazard communication and international trade purposes. Industry stakeholders and interested users will also be able to search for elements on the website and prepare their own labelling in different local languages.
As of January 2014, the GHS labelling elements on the website were provided in 34 languages from 11 member economies—including Australia, Chile, China, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Russia, Thailand and Chinese Taipei—and in 23 languages from EU members.
The latest language updates include Bahasa Indonesia and simplified Chinese. The website has received over 60,000 visits, predominately for viewing the labelling elements in different languages.
The CD continues to manage and update the G.R.E.A.T. website. In the first quarter of 2017 it introduced a new version, reflecting changes agreed to at SOM1 2016.
The CD also encouraged member economies to share GHS-related updates as well as ideas on ways to expand or better utilize the website.
Virtual Working Group on Regulatory Convergence and Cooperation
In May 2012, at the Chemical Dialogue meeting in Kazan, Russia, members agreed to establish a Virtual Working Group (VWG) on Regulatory Convergence and Cooperation.
The main aim of the VWG is to examine how the work of the CD could contribute to the broader APEC agenda for regulatory cooperation.
The VWG has been exploring areas of collaboration with the APEC Sub-Committee on Standards and Conformance, given their work on green buildings and good regulatory practices. The VWG is also undertaking a study to identify potential areas for further cooperation on regulatory work with the OECD, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (AEAN), and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia.
In addition, a framework for comparing regulatory systems is being developed by the Russian Federation and a case study is currently being prepared by New Zealand on their chemicals management system.
Chemical Dialogue Regulator’s Forum Meeting
In the Third Senior Officials Meeting of 2019, the CD Regulator’s Forum encouraged member economies to provide ideas for potential topics to be included in the Regulators’ Forum 2020-2021 Work Plan.
The CD continues its partnership with the Oceans and Fisheries Working Group (OFWG) to promote innovative solutions to marine debris.
The CD supported the project proposal for APEC (through the OFWG) funding to be used to update a 2009 study on the economic impacts of marine debris and to promoting the further implementation of the 2016 Policy and Practice Recommendations on Overcoming Barriers to Financing Waste Management Systems.
The CD endorsed a 2018 work plan for the Virtual Working Group on Marine Debris which includes the following points:
- To continue the group’s partnership with ABAC and the Finance Ministers Process and hosting Asia Pacific Infrastructure Partnership meetings on incentivizing investment in waste management systems and developing a pipeline of bankable projects, the results of which were presented at the 2018 Finance and Central Bank Deputies Meeting;
- To support the aforementioned concept note with the OFWG;
- To continue to contribute to APEC-wide discussions on urbanization, infrastructure, sustainable materials management and the circular economy.
The CD worked with the OFWG, the US Department of State, and the Trash Free Seas Alliance in organizing the APEC Marine Debris Stakeholder Meeting: “Improving Data and Coordination and Developing New Partnerships,” held on 2–3 November 2018 in Bali, Indonesia.
APEC Chemical Dialogue Strengthens Trade through Cooperation
APEC Regulatory Solution Enhances Chemical Safety, Trade
Better regulations for safer, more robust trade in chemicals
APEC Economies Seek to Facilitate Trade and Reduce Cost of Chemicals
EU Chemical Legislation Deemed Harmful to Developing Economies and Small Business
APEC Members Express Concern with Proposed European Chemical Legislation
The CD has been active in promoting 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.
To support and complement the work of the CD, a Chemical Dialogue Regulators' Forum has been established with regular meetings commencing in 2009.
The 22nd Meeting of the Chemical Dialogue Meeting (Final Report)(58.29 KB, docx)
APEC CD GHS Implementation Convergence Questionnaire 2019 Progress Report(57.59 KB, docx)
Attachment 1 - 2019 APEC CD GHS Convergence Report(154.22 KB, pdf)
Attachment 2 - 2019 APEC CD GHS Convergence Report(3.44 MB, pdf)
Attachment 3 - 2019 APEC CD GHS Convergence Report(75.7 KB, docx)
APEC Webinar on RIA(193.46 KB, docx)
Twenty-First Meeting of the APEC Chemical Dialogue Final Report - 2018
Twentieth Meeting of the APEC Chemical Dialogue Final Report - 2018
Chemical Dialogue Terms of Reference (2018)(25.47 KB, DOCX)
Summary Report on the APEC Workshop on Metals Risk Assessment. Cebu, Philippines on 28–29th August 2015
APEC Webinar 1 - Soil Bioavailability - McLaughlin Presentation
APEC Webinar 1 - Soil Bioavailability Outline
APEC Webinar 2 - Aquatic Bioavailability - Merrington Presentation
APEC Webinar 2 - Aquatic Bioavailability Outline
APEC Webinar 3 - Bioavailability Tools for Human Health
APEC Webinar 3 - Human Health Bioavailability - Lowney Presentation
APEC Best Practice in Chemical Regulation Checklist
7th Progress Report on the Implementation of GHS in APEC Economies
8th Progress Report on the Implementation of GHS in APEC Economies
Mr Kent C. SHIGETOMI
Director for Multilateral Non-Tariff Barriers, Office of the United States Trade Representative
Executive Director, Japan Chemical Industry Association
Mr Johnny LIN