Rising Chemical Export Requests Could Spur Delays, EU Agency Says

By Stephen Gardner

The addition of new chemicals under an international export convention is challenging the European Chemicals Agency with a rising tide of export requests, potentially causing delays for chemicals companies.

According to the agency, the number of notifications—which chemicals exporters are required to submit under the European Union’s Prior Informed Consent Regulation (PIC, Regulation (EU) 649/2012)—increased by 74 percent since 2014 to nearly 8,000 in 2016. The number of companies filing notifications rose from 390 to 1,177.

The export notifications are on the rise because new substances are being added to Annex I of the PIC Regulation and companies are becoming more aware of their obligations under the law.

“The expectation is that more chemicals will be added to Annex I,” leading to a greater workload in the future, the agency said in a Sept. 6 statement to Bloomberg BNA.

Limited Staff

The agency said it has only seven full-time staff working on the implementation of the PIC Regulation and will request that EU institutions allocate additional resources when its budget for the 2018-2020 period is discussed.

Jasper Jansen, communications manager with Dutch chemicals company AkzoNobel, told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 6 that it was required to file notifications for exports of some hazardous substances and “overall, we are satisfied” with the system set up by the chemicals agency to handle the notifications.

European Chemicals Agency Director Geert Dancet said in a statement Sept. 6 that unless the agency received new resources, however, it “cannot guarantee the same level of quality as we have achieved so far.”

When exporters want to export a listed chemical, they have to notify their national authority no later than 35 days before the export. The national authority then has 10 days to check the notification and pass it onto the EU chemicals agency. About 5 percent of these notifications are delivered late, according to the agency. ECHA then has 10 days to get in touch with the authority in the importing country to notify them of the export; about 1percent of these notifications are now running late.

According to a report it published Sept. 6, the agency has already experienced some delays in processing export notifications and passing them onto importing countries and with authorities in EU member countries forwarding notifications to the European Chemicals Agency.

Annex Contains 200 Substances

The EU PIC Regulation implements the Rotterdam Convention on the PIC Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade in the bloc, which seeks to ensure that companies only export certain hazardous substances to countries that have previously consented to their import.

The regulation’s Annex I contains 200 substances for which consent must be sought from authorities in the importing country, or for which an export notification must be filed with the European Chemicals Agency.

According to the chemicals agency’s website, the greatest number of notifications for exports out of the EU are submitted for chloroform, benzene and 1,2-dichloroethane, which is used in applications such as the production of polymers, pharmaceuticals, and pesticides.

Companies that manufacture the substances in the EU include AkzoNobel and Germany’s BASF. BASF told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 6 it was unable to comment on the PIC export notification procedure.

The U.S. signed the Rotterdam, or PIC, Convention, but never ratified it. Since 157 countries and regions are parties to the treaty, however, U.S. chemical and pesticide manufacturers exporting to those parts of the world must comply.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephen Gardner in Brussels at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at rdaigle@bna.com

For More Information

The European Chemicals Agency report on the implementation of the PIC Regulation is available at http://src.bna.com/ski.

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