European firms in pledge on chemicals trade

Trade bodies launch voluntary compliance with draft UN rules on exports notification

EU compliance with an international treaty designed to track and control trade in hazardous substances has taken an important step forward with an announcement by chemical producers that they will voluntarily implement key elements.

Coordinated by two European trade associations, the initiative comes two years before the EU is likely to formally ratify the treaty, known as the Rotterdam convention on prior informed consent (PIC). Manufacturers claim it will help ensure smooth legal compliance from the moment of ratification.

Under the initiative, members of chemical industry association Cefic plus agrochemical association ECPA will notify countries annually if they are being sent substances "banned or severely restricted" under EU law. Countries receiving such shipments will have the right to refuse them under the terms of the convention (ENDS Daily 11 September 1998). This replaces an existing voluntary EU system of export notification.

Industry hopes that early action will allow firms "to gain experience with the new procedures" before they are required by law, especially since the list of chemicals requiring export notification has grown in recent years (ENDS Daily 3 November 2000) and is expected to expand further.

Follow Up:
Rotterdam convention secretariat, tel: +39 06 57 05 34 41; ECPA, tel: +32 2 663 15 50; Cefic, tel: +32 2 676 7211.

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