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The Export and Import of Hazardous Chemicals


For several decades, the goal of the United Nations has been to establish global sustainable development while caring for the health of the human race. Thus, due to the modern day industrial dependency on various chemicals which are often hazardous to both humans and nature alike, the Rotterdam Convention was set up in order to monitor and control the movement of such chemicals. The Convention produced a mechanism referred to as prior informed consent (PIC) procedures which allows for the circulation of decisions made by importing countries regarding the relevant hazardous chemicals. At the same time, this mechanism ensures that exporting countries comply with the former's wishes. This procedure is coupled with export notifications which act as a guarantee that the exporting country does not intend on breaching the Convention. All of this is orchestrated by an online Database, the ePIC, which is managed by the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) and maintained by anyone involved in export and import. Click the below link to access the Database:

ePIC Database

Whereas the Rotterdam Convention was the original multi-national program for this Regulation, the European Union saw it fit to create its own Regulation - (EC) No. 689/2008, later updated to (EC) No. 649/2012 - with more refined control and monitoring.


Relevant Chemicals

Annex I of Regulation (EC) No. 649/2012 lists those chemicals which require export notification procedures, those which qualify for PIC notification and also those which are already subject to the aforementioned notification - all the relevant paperwork is documented in other Annexes. It is worth mentioning that certain substances such as the persistent organic pollutants (POPs) as stipulated by the Stockholm Convention are altogether banned from import/export circulation unless specifically exempted.

The following are specific exemptions to the Regulation:

  1. Narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances covered by Regulation (EC) No. 1112/2005;
  2. Radioactive materials and substances covered by Directive 96/29/Euratom;
  3. Wastes covered by Directive 2008/98/EC;
  4. Chemical weapons covered by Regulation (EC) No. 428/2009;
  5. Food and food additives covered by Regulation (EC) No. 882/2004;
  6. Feedingstuffs covered by Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002;
  7. Genetically modified organisms covered by Directive 2001/18/EC;
  8. Proprietary medicinal products and veterinary medicinal products covered Directive 2001/83/EC;
  9. Chemicals to be used for research/analysis purposes and which do not exceed 10 kg from each exporter to each importing country per calendar year.


Regulations and Obligations

This particular Regulation tends to overlap with other Regulations which are also presently being implemented; in particular, the control of pesticides, the restriction of POPs and the necessity of appropriate labelling. Although Malta is still in the process of signing and ratifying the Rotterdam Convention, as a part of the European Union it is in our obligation to adhere to the Regulation. Thus, as the assigned competent authority, the MCCAA has taken responsibility for the implementation of the PIC procedure. The main duty of this authority is to control the import/export of relevant chemicals while also ensuring that importers/exporters provide and receive the correct documentation from the European Agency, and vice-versa. The Database will be maintained by both the legal persons involved as well as the MCCAA so as to monitor substances which enter and exit the Maltese islands. As a result of this, the Member States, the Commission and the Agency will be able to work together so as to control the movement of hazardous chemicals around the globe.


Relevant Links

Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade

Regulation (EC) No. 649/2012

ePIC User Manual