The Chemical Dialogue (CD) continues to discuss ways to contribute to APEC's overarching goals of trade liberalization and business facilitation.
The 11th Chemical Dialogue (CD) meeting was held in Kazan, Russia in May 2012. The 12th CD meeting will be held in Medan, Indonesia in June 2013
The CD Steering Group meeting was held in Jakarta on January 28, 2013. Government and industry representatives from APEC member economies met to discuss their recent achievements and to coordinate ongoing and future work.
The CD continued to build on the Strategic Framework for Chemicals in the Asia-Pacific Region that was adopted in 2011.This included undertaking a work program built around the three shared goals identified by the Strategic Framework for the CD: (1) Expanding and supporting cooperation and mutual recognition among chemical regulators in the Asia-Pacific Region; (2) Enhancing understanding of the chemical industry’s role as an innovative solutions industry; and (3) Encouraging chemical product stewardship, safe use, and sustainability.
The CD program of work focused 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 in articles. The CD also continued to emphasize the integration of its work with the international chemicals agenda, including the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).
The CD also announced the initiation of an emergency response website to centralize information for hazmat incident first responders, publicly available at – http://global.chemtrec.com. Finally, the CD continued its innovative work to advance the implementation of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for chemical classification labeling.
Important CD activities include:
Responding to the needs of industry, the CD has launched the GHS Reference Exchange and Tool G.R.E.A.T.clearinghouse website that collects and provides GHS standardized labeling elements in local languages. Authorities and the chemical industry will be able to find translations of labeling terms for hazard communication and international trade purposes. Industry and interested users will also be able to search elements on the website and prepare their own labeling in different local languages.
The last CD Regulators’ Forum was held in March 2012 in Singapore. The Forum discussed a brief recap of its last meeting in Washington D.C., USA in 2011, focusing on chemical inventories with additional emphasis on how economies manage confidential business information and contributions of the chemical sector to the economy. An action plan 2012-2013 for the CD Regulators’ Forum has been adopted. Next CD Regulators’ Forum will be held in Medan, Indonesia in late June 2013.
Two CD projects, approved for funding in 2012, have been completed:
(1) ”Regulatory Cooperation – Introductory Level Training in Risk Assessment and Risk Management to Provide Tools for the Development of Sound Chemical Regulations” implemented by the United States; and
(2) “The Conference on Concept of Data Exchange on Chemical Products and Chemical Substances Hazardous Properties” implemented by Russia.
The CD has been active in promoting implementation of the United Nation's Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals
(GHS) by APEC member economies. The GHS is a set of guidelines aimed at simplifying regulations and labeling 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 the report of the CD's Virtual Working Group on GHS implementation issues entitled 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 groundbreaking APEC Best Practices for Chemical Regulation
to the SAICM. The guidelines were formulated by APEC officials and industry representatives, and endorsed by APEC Ministers.
Representatives of the CD 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 CD is also addressing APEC member economies' and regional manufacturers' concerns about the potentially trade-distorting effects of the European Union's system of Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) legislation. The CD has undertaken to coordinate APEC engagement with the EU on these issues, and in 2008, the CD endorsed and transmitted to the European Commission a set of questions and letters on REACH implementation.
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 and as an APEC contribution to broader SAICM implementation;
- 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; and
- 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.
In 2012, the CD Regulators’ Forum was held in Singapore on March 30, back to back with the OECD Clearing House on New Chemical event. In May 2011, APEC Trade Ministers in Big Sky, Montana welcomed the continued active commitment to regulatory cooperation for chemicals through a strategic framework that contributes to regional economic integration and regulatory convergence, including progressing the UN’s GHS.
The Strategic Framework contains three shared goals: (1) expand and support cooperation and mutual recognition among chemical regulators in the region to facilitate trade; (2) enhance understanding of the chemical industry’s role as an innovative solutions industry; and (3) encourage chemical product stewardship, safe use and sustainability. Chemical regulators routinely participate in the work of the Chemical Dialogue, especially through its Regulators Forum.
The work items in the revised CD Strategic Framework and the current action items include the following:
To establish multi-party virtual working group to develop concept note on conducting Chemical Management Best Practice Seminar;
To involve participation of the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) in the CD meeting in 2012;
To establish virtual working group to develop case studies for GHS implementation for consumer products;
To explore options to refine reporting template to be placed on G.R.E.A.T. website;
To draft concept note for industry workshop and the CD regulators’ forum and training workshop; and
To encourage member economies to provide case studies for use in Rio+20 and SAICM
Dr Fumiaki SHONO (Mr)
Japan Chemical Industry Association
Senior General Manager/Chemical Management Dept.
Secretary General REACH Task Force
Barbara NORTON (Ms)
Chemical Dialogue Steering Group Chair
Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative
Office of Market Access and Industrial Competitiveness
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
Executive Office of the President
600 17th ST., NW
Washington, DC 20508
Tel: +1 202 395 6061
Fax: +1 202 395 9674
Steve CHEN (Mr)