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Implementation of trade related provisions of the Rotterdam Convention (PIC): China


China ratified the Rotterdam Convention (PIC) in December 2004 and began to enforce the PIC in 2005. As one of the largest pesticide producer and exporter countries in Asia and the Pacific, it is important for China to implement relevant trade related provisions of the Convention.

China has implemented a 3-year action plan for phasing out 5 highly toxic organophosphates since 2003, which results in an annual 20 percent decrease of the highly toxic pesticide volume. In addition, it is recently requested that the country should fully stop soonest the production and exportation of those toxic pesticides, whose distribution and use in domestic crop fields have been fully prohibited since 2007 but with a certain amount still being produced for exporting purpose in line with the previous plan.

The developments will have a significant impact on the domestic markets of its neighboring countries and other trading partners. They will also significantly contribute to the reduction of the health and environmental risks in these countries.

On the other hand, there is an urgent need for strengthening joint efforts in legal actions and the enforcement by involving various stakeholders at home and abroad, especially at the regional level.

Very impressive is the effort made by the Ministry of Customs to control hazardous or highly toxic chemicals listed in Annex III. It is suggested that trade marks of the chemicals and pesticides be registered with the Customs, so that their intelligent property could be protected, and fake products could be monitored closely. The current system of controlling and monitoring the export of Annex III chemicals is managed through an on-line system which traces the chemicals by special customs codes and the timely exchange of information between the Customs and SEPA. Thanks to the established system, more than 70 cases of exports were blocked by the Customs.

In view of the fast growth of pesticide and chemical export in recent years and with the increasing pressure of controlling and monitoring the trade and implementation of the Rotterdam Convention in China, the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) of China on behalf of the country's two Designated National Authorities (DNAs) requested the Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention to assist them in organizing the National Workshop on Implementation of Relevant Trade Related Provisions of the Rotterdam Convention (PIC).

With the support of the Secretariat, the DNAs of MOA and SEPA developed the agenda of the workshop. Importantly, for discussion at the workshop, they jointly prepared contexts of part A and part B of a working paper on enhancement of implementation of the Convention, especially in relation to the trade related provisions in China. Based upon the implementation obligations under the Convention, the national working paper systematically summarized and introduced in detail how the Convention was implemented in China in respect of industrial chemicals and pesticides.

The national workshop on the implementation of trade related provisions of the Rotterdam Convention (PIC) was held from 29 October 2007 to 2 November 2007 in Hangzhou, China. It was jointly organized by MOA and SEPA. More than 30 representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), the Ministry of Custom (including Shanghai and Nanjing Customs), the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the Ministry of Commerce (MOC), the State Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (SAQSIQ), the Certification Office for Approving Hazardous Chemicals Production, China Association of Pesticide Development and Application, Crop Life, pesticide producers (Nantong Jingshan and Zhejiang Jiahua) industry associations, importers, exporters and other concerned parties attended the workshop.

The national workshop represents one of the two phase thematic workshops approved in Decision RC-3/6 of the third meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP). On the basis of prior technical and financial assistance, with the focus on the implementation of the trade related provisions of the Convention at the national level as well as between the exporting party and its major trade partners, the two phase workshops are aimed at improving the abilities of developing country parties or parties with economies in transition in the implementation of the Convention.

Workshop summary

Representatives of the Chinese government agencies and international organizations attended the workshop. Among the participants were Mr Zhou Fuguo, Deputy Director General of the Department of Crop Production Management of MOA, Mr Fan Yuansheng, Director General of the Department of Pollution Control of SEPA, Mr Wang Yunhao, Director General of the Institute for the Control of Agrochemicals, MOA (ICAMA), Mr Zhu Zhiquan, Deputy Director General of Department of Agriculture of Zhejiang Province, Dr Yun Zhou of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat, and Mr Piao Yongfan, Plant Protection Officer of FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and Secretary of the Asia and Pacific Plant Protection Commission (APPPC).

Dr Yun Zhou of the PIC Secretariat and Mr Piao Yongfan of FAO Regional Office and APPPC expressed the commitments of their organizations to the promotion of the implementation of the Convention in China, expecting that the workshop would produce valuable outputs.

During the workshop, Dr Yun Zhou and Mr Yongfan provided technical assistance and guidelines for the arrangement of the working paper through presentations and interactions.

At the national level, the mechanisms that governments chose to implement these obligations might vary, depending on their own administrative arrangements and available resources. The effective implementation of the Convention required adequate information flow and coordination at the national level between the DNAs and other key stakeholders within and outside the government. As a first step, the key stakeholders needed to have a common understanding of the necessary procedures involved.

The participants reviewed examples from the perspectives of each stakeholder and considered what actions and interactions would be required and by whom, taking into consideration the current practices, identifying gaps or needs for improvement, and exploring a way forward to address the gaps.

Based on the main elements of the Articles 10, 11 and 12 of the Convention, the actions required were analyzed. The participants also reviewed current operational procedures, which were outlined prior to the meeting by the MOA and SEPA.

The participants had considerable discussions on the following:

The technical assistance provided to the meeting through such dialogue, analysis, discussion and planning steps by the representatives of the PIC Secretariat and the FAO Regional Office and APPPC helped promote the collaboration among the various stakeholders in the country.

It was suggested that the outcomes of the workshop with the working paper, especially the recommendations made by each stakeholder, be included in the agenda of the next workshop to be held in 2008.

Workshop results

1. Intensive review discussions together with the presentations by the representatives of the PIC Secretariat as well as the FAO Regional Office and APPPC provided the participants from the MOA and SEPA with clarifications on the difference between the Annex III obligations and the responsibilities of exporting countries in information exchange. These responsibilities included, among others, various requirements on sending notifications to the PIC Secretariat with final regulatory decisions on hazardous chemicals, especially banned/prohibited highly toxic pesticides (including pesticides containing 5 highly toxic organophosphates); sending export notifications to importing countries (Article 12); making efforts as much as possible for putting labels on the products (pesticides) in the importing country's official language in addition to the compliance requirements related to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).

The participants also gained a better understanding of the various provisions of the Convention. In addition, they were given further clarifications on the obligations and responsibilities related to the implementation of the Convention.

After a detailed explanation of eleven elements under the trade related Articles 10, 11, 12 and 13 of the Convention by Dr Yun Zhou of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat and Mr Piao Yongfan of FAO and APPPC, the participants gained a better understanding of the Articles and other related ones. The key trade related provisions of the Rotterdam Convention contained in the Articles 10, 11, 12 and 13, indicated obligations and actions required from a Party.

In addition, the participants were given clarifications on certain areas which were not fully or accurately understood previously.

2. The workshop helped strengthen the coordination among DNAs and other stakeholders. It also helped consolidate and optimize the infrastructure of the implementation of the Convention.

Detailed discussions of various situations in the daily implementation further clarified the responsibilities of each party. Each stakeholder gained a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of others. As a result, the coordinative relationship among the parties concerned was strengthened.

In fact, the process of preparing and hosting the workshop already significantly enhanced the coordination among the DNAs, the various departments and all the stakeholders.

3. The workshop succeeded in developing a working paper for the implementation of the trade related provisions of the Convention. Under the guidance of the PIC Secretariat, the participants studied the trade related provisions of the Convention, summarized the implementation status of the Chinese chemical and pesticide industry, identified challenges in the implementation of Convention, taking into account the new trends and situations of the Chinese industrial chemicals and pesticides management. In addition, the participants explored regulatory measures with an aim to improve the implementation of the Convention in China. These measures included, among others, completion and perfection of the relevant laws and regulations, improvement of the national systems of implementing the Convention and establishment of a platform for coordination for all the stakeholders.

4. Importantly, the workshop gave the Convention greater publicity. It provided an opportunity for the pesticide manufacturers, exporters and importers who previously paid little attention to the Convention to gain a better understanding of the various provisions of the Convention. Furthermore, the workshop helped clarify obligations of the manufacturers, exporters and importers in the implementation of the Convention. The workshop also served an effective measure to publicize and popularize the Convention and raise the industry's awareness and voluntary compliance with the Convention.

Steps forward

The workshop approved the following steps to be undertaken by the parties concerned.

  1. Strengthen legislative and administrative measures.
  2. Further improve and perfect the coordination systems.
  3. Provide more publicity to the Rotterdam Convention and its relevant information
  4. Make further efforts to receive support from the PIC Secretariat in the following areas.

Other recommendations:


The participants of the workshop recognizes the importance of promoting close communications and interactions among major producers, exporters and importers, by sharing the most updated information of the legal decisions, regulations and circulars of the PIC Secretariat as well as the import decisions and export notifications provided by exporting countries through the official channels by DNAs in favourable languages.

Noteworthy is the fact that all participants from various ministries consider that joint actions including inspection and monitoring should be organized frequently in order to reduce the unregulated or illegal trade of pesticides in land-border areas.

Highlighted is the potential role of associations, such as China Association of Pesticide Development, whose function covers research, industry development, management, and strategy, which is chaired by a former Vice-Minister of the MOA and whose members consist of pesticide companies, producers, academic research institutes, and universities. Also noteworthy is the importance of the transition of the role and function of the Institute of Control of Agro-Chemical Quality, Ministry of Agriculture (ICAMA), with focus given on regulating and monitoring pesticide production, marketing and application.

It will be a good initiative to organize a joint workshop in 2008 for administrative agencies, exporters and importers who are the most important stakeholders and in the key position of the implementation of the PIC.

The workshop will cover the joint collaborations in the implementation of the Articles 10, 11, 12 and 13 of the Rotterdam Convention. The collaborations are expected to have a significant impact on anti-movement on smuggling trade of pesticides in land-border areas. The PIC Secretariat, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific as well as the APPPC Standing Committee on Pesticides may provide technical assistance to the meeting.

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