The chemical industry is a cross-cutting sector that contributes to most industrial and many non-industrial sectors - its products are widely traded across borders, and it is a key economic building block in APEC economies. The APEC Chemical Dialogue (CD) has been promoting the consistent implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (“GHS”) since 2002 when the Ministers Responsible for Trade (“MRT”) endorsed the CD’s efforts to promote the widest possible GHS implementation by APEC member economies before 2006.
The GHS was developed to promote harmonization of hazard communication to improve workers’ health and safety, ensure environmental protection, facilitate trade, and reduce the need for testing and evaluation of chemicals, while simultaneously improving the sound management of chemicals. Yet, as the annual reports of the Virtual Working Group (“VWG”) on GHS have increasingly identified, there are marked variances in whether, how, and when GHS has been implemented by APEC member economies. These variances impose substantial unnecessary transaction costs along the supply chain in chemical trade where companies are required to adopt economy-specific hazard communication systems, undermining the intended benefits of a globally harmonized system.
To promote consistent implementation, the VWG therefore undertook as a necessary first step development of a comparison of the status and variance of GHS implementation in the region which could inform future APEC work. The 2014 Progress on the Implementation of GHS in APEC Economies Report, established 5 major hurdles, one of them is: “The need for capacity building for both government and industry”. This application aims to promote capacity building for both government and industry for economies in the Asia Pacific region to facilitate trade and reduce costs by:
· Raising awareness of the international trade requirements of GHS
· Raising the level of knowledge on the aims and methodologies to implement GHS by government and the private sector; and
· Determining the proper APEC actions to reduce non-tariff barriers (NTB) attributable to GHS implementation.
For these purposes, we propose a two-day capacity building workshop facilitated by experts, with roundtable discussions to identify implementation problems impacting domestic and international trade in each economy and its possible solutions, to be held in Lima, Peru on August 18-19, 2016 on the margins of the third Seniors Officials Meetings. The workshop will coincide with APEC economies ongoing implementation of GHS and will allow participants from cross-APEC fora to examine how economies can continue engagement to further implement the good regulatory practices (GRP), share case studies, as well as, identify potential capacity-building opportunities for Best Practice Principles, among others. This also aligns to the current activities of the CD with respect to regulatory cooperation work and to promote best practice principles for chemicals regulation within the region.