At this week’s third APEC senior officials meeting (SOM III) in Medan, Indonesia, regulators from a wide range of APEC economies met with industry representatives and other stakeholders to discuss emerging issues in the regulation of chemicals. Helen Medina, USCIB’s senior director of product policy and innovation, attended along with a number of member company executives. The forum took place under the auspices of the APEC Chemical Dialogue, a forum for regulatory officials and industry representatives to find solutions to challenges facing the chemical industry and users of chemicals in the Asia-Pacific region.
The APEC Regulators Forum began with a discussion of what is happening with the OECD Clearing House on New Chemicals (CHNC) which brings together representatives of interested governments (U.S., Canada, Australia) and the chemical industry, working cooperatively to reduce overall burdens associated with new chemical notification reviews, while maintaining the high quality of health and safety decisions for new chemicals.
The CHNC works to streamline the new chemicals notification processes by sharing the work on new chemical notifications and assessments, so that that there is a mutual recognition of assessments and a mutual acceptance of notifications. It is actively working to include more participants from non-OECD countries in its activities. Since many APEC economies are in the process of updating or creating new chemical management systems, participants at the regulators forum agreed that having joint meetings with the OECD CHNC would help APEC regulators.
“The OECD New Chemicals Clearing House has real value for both economies and industry,” said Marianne Heinrich (BP). “We hope that having the joint meeting with the APEC regulators forum will increase the participation of APEC economies, so that participation in the Clearing House can create even more benefits for all stakeholders.”
Other items that emerged from the meeting include:
- A proposal for a scientific workshop on metals risk assessment within the framework of the APEC Regulators’ Forum which was introduced by the Australian government. This was supported by Japan, Australia, Chile, Philippines, Chinese Taipei, Russia and China, and approved by the APEC Chemical Dialogue, which took place later in the week.
- Vietnam has requested APEC funding for technical assistance to develop an industrial chemical inventory, which would be recognized internationally and allow the trade of chemicals between Vietnam and other APEC economies. It was agreed that the proposal needs to be further developed, keeping in mind ways that such a project could also help other economies.
Economies represented included Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, the United States and Vietnam. USCIB members present included BP, the American Petroleum Institute, Dupont, the American Chemistry Council, Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates, the Nickel Institute and the Toy Industry Association.
In addition, during a breakout session, USCIB members met with EPA officials to discuss possible future projects for the APEC Regulators Forum to undertake. USCIB suggested the following:
- The Regulators Forum could provide information about training tools to help SMEs implement the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.
- APEC could translate new regulatory documents that emerge from APEC economies into English.
- Improve the APEC Chemicals Dialogue website so that it is easier for participants to search for and access documents.
The chair of the meeting (from the United States) thought these ideas could be valuable as future projects but they would need to be formally introduced either in the Regulators Forum or at the APEC Chemical Dialogue Steering Group.
Survey on confidential business information
At the APEC Chemical Dialogue itself, USCIB’s Medina unveiled the APEC Economies Survey on Confidential Business Information (CBI), which seeks to determine what type of information is protected in various APEC economies.
“This survey is important to business because industry needs a better understanding of what is protected,” she said. “If confidential business information must be disclosed, industry needs to know how the APEC Economy is sharing the information, and with whom.”
Once information has been gathered from the survey, we hope to foster a discussion on how the APEC Chemical Dialogue can work on harmonizing how economies protect CBI, and what type of information is considered CBI.
Staff contact: Helen Medina
Taiwan Adopts New Chemicals Legislation
Taiwan, Province of China, has passed new legislation that moves it toward a European Union-style chemicals management system. Some highlights of the new law include:
- A ban on manufacturer or import prior to submitting hazard and labor risk assessment reports and obtaining the approval for registration of new chemicals (those not listed in a government inventory)
- Required disclosure of hazard and risk assessment of the registered new chemical substance for the purpose of protecting workplace safety and health
- Required submission of relevant operation data of priority management chemical substances designated by the Taiwan government
- Required government permit for operating with or exposure to designated controlled chemical substances, including those that are potentially carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction, and endocrine disruptors
USCIB has advocated a risk-based approach to chemicals management, and has sought to curtail requirements for the disclosure of confidential business information, including trade secrets and other intellectual property, as a precondition for approval to use new chemicals substances. We will continue to monitor the development of chemicals regulation in a number of key markets.