New Trade-Related Conditions on Certain Chemicals
The first-ever joint meetings of three agreements that regulate chemicals and hazardous waste at a global level yielded several measures that will affect international trade in these substances. Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, the Basel Convention and the Stockholm Convention meeting in Geneva this month adopted 50 separate decisions aimed at strengthening protection against hazardous chemicals and waste as well as a work program for joint activities in 2014 and 2015.
The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal regulates the import and export of hazardous waste and waste containing hazardous chemicals. The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade currently regulates information about the import and export of 47 hazardous chemicals, including 33 pesticides and 14 industrial chemicals. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants currently regulates 23 toxic substances that are persistent, travel long distances, bioaccumulate in organisms and are toxic. Unlike the Stockholm Convention, the Rotterdam Convention does not ban or restrict trade in chemicals or pesticide formulations but instead serves to strengthen the protection of human health and the environment by expanding the exchange of safety information between exporting and importing states.
Actions taken at this month’s meetings include the following.
- Parties to the Rotterdam Convention agreed to add the pesticide azinphos-methyl, flame retardants pentaBDE and octaBDE, and fabric protector PFOS to the list of substances for which information must be exchanged between parties before imports can take place. A press release from the United Nations Environmental Program notes that this is the highest number of substances added to the informed consent procedure since the adoption of the Convention in 1998.
- Parties to the Stockholm Convention agreed to list hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) in Annex A, which lists persistent organic pollutants whose production and use parties intend to eliminate, with specific exemptions for expanded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene in buildings.
- Parties to the Basel Convention agreed to develop over the next two years technical guidelines on transboundary movements of electronic and electrical wastes.
- Terms of reference were decided for the newly-established Environmental Network for Optimizing Regulatory Compliance on Illegal Traffic, which aims to prevent and combat illegal traffic in hazardous and other wastes through improved implementation and enforcement of national law.