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July 27, 2012

China Extends Hazardous Chemicals Registration Requirement to Importers

Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

On July 11, 2012, China’s State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) published Order Number 53, Measures for the Administration of Registration of Hazardous Chemicals, which replaces its 2002 predecessor. Order Number 53 extends the chemical registration requirements to importers and manufacturers/producers. An increase in the number of substances defined as “hazardous chemicals” in China is also expected. The Order will enter into force on August 1, 2012, and the chemicals must be registered with SAWS’ National Registration Center of Chemicals (NRCC) before being imported. Order Number 53 includes procedures for registering and updating a registration when new hazard information is available for manufacturers/producers and importers of hazardous substances as required by Article 67 of Decree 591, China’s main law governing hazardous chemicals. The Order is available, in Chinese, online.

Registrations must include classification and labeling information; physical and chemical properties; the main use of the chemical; its hazardous characteristics; the safety requirements for storage, use, and transport; and information on emergency response, including telephone numbers. Registrants will need to supply business licenses and importer registration or qualification certificates, wholly-foreign-owned enterprise approval certificates, safety data sheets, safety labels, and product standards for produced or imported chemicals. While the Order is to include the registration of hazardous chemicals, initial registration appears to be limited to those substances listed in China’s Catalogue of Hazardous Chemicals (Catalogue) but the Order appears to have sufficient flexibility to allow for expansion to substances considered hazardous but not included in the Catalogue. China is expected to increase the number of substances in the Catalogue over the next few years from 3,700 to as many as 10,000, however, there are various opinions available as to the number of substances that will be added.

SAWS’ NRCC will process the registrations. Local work safety bureaus will also be included in this system.

In addition, the Order requires the establishment, by the manufacturer/producer, of a 24-hour domestic emergency hotline to assist in providing critical information on the hazardous chemicals it places on the market in China. The emergency hotline must be staffed by individuals familiar with the hazardous characteristics and emergency response techniques, and who are able to respond accurately to questions. If the manufacturer cannot provide a 24-hour emergency consulting service (hotline), then the responsibility defaults to the registration agency emergency consulting service. Importers must either establish or entrust the importer agent or the registration agency to provide emergency consulting services similar to those of manufacturers/producers. The label, upon import, must list the emergency hotline number. The criteria as outlined in Article 22 must be met when establishing such services.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection is preparing a final version of the Measures on Environmental Management Registration of Dangerous Chemicals.