Roles & Provisions

The role of Customs in the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention

Customs authorities play a key role in the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention and in protecting their countries from unwanted trade of hazardous chemicals. Governments will be able to enforce national decisions on the import/export of hazardous chemicals if effective coordination with their customs authorities takes place. Parties to the Convention are required to make import decisions on 40 hazardous chemicals listed in Annex III of the Convention.

Designated National Authorities (DNAs) for the Rotterdam Convention, often based within the Ministries of Agriculture, Environment and/or Health, distribute these decisions to customs authorities as well as to all national stakeholders (e.g. the industry sector) involved in the international trade of chemicals. Good cooperation and coordination between customs authorities and DNAs are essential for the effective implementation of the Convention.

The role of designated national authorities

Designated national authorities (DNAs) play a crucial role in implementing the Convention.
They serve as the focal points in their respective countries for submitting import responses and for disseminating information on the PIC procedure to the relevant government departments and exporting and importing industries, among others. Ideally, DNAs should keep customs officers up-to-date on any changes that might affect their work. A list of DNAs can be found on the Convention’s website.

Provisions of the Rotterdam Convention relevant to Customs activities

The Rotterdam Convention sets out provisions for the import and export between Parties of chemicals that are listed in Annex III of the Convention.

When exporting chemicals, customs authorities should be informed by their DNA(s) of the import responses from other countries relevant to Annex III chemicals (Articles 10-11), on any updates to the list of chemicals in Annex III (Articles 7 and Article 9) and, when importing, on the chemicals that have been banned or severely restricted at national level (Article 5).

Article 10                                             

Obligations in relation to imports of chemicals listed in Annex III

1. Each Party shall implement appropriate legislative or administrative measures to ensure timely decisions with respect to the import of chemicals listed in Annex III.

2. Each Party shall transmit to the Secretariat, as soon as possible, and in any event no later than nine months after the date of dispatch of the decision guidance document referred to in paragraph 3 of Article 7, a response concerning the future import of the chemical concerned.  If a Party modifies this response, it shall forthwith submit the revised response to the Secretariat.

3. The Secretariat shall, at the expiration of the time period in paragraph 2, forthwith address to a Party that has not provided such a response, a written request to do so.  Should the Party be unable to provide a response, the Secretariat shall, where appropriate, help it to provide a response within the time period specified in the last sentence of paragraph 2 of Article 11.

4. A response under paragraph 2 shall consist of either:

(a) A final decision, pursuant to legislative or administrative measures:               

(i) To consent to import;               

(ii) Not to consent to import; or               

(iii) To consent to import only subject to specified conditions; or(

b) An interim response, which may include:               

(i) An interim decision consenting to import with or without specified conditions, or not consenting to import during the interim period;               

(ii) A statement that a final decision is under active consideration;               

(iii) A request to the Secretariat, or to the Party that notified the final regulatory action, for further information;         

(iv) A request to the Secretariat for assistance in evaluating the chemical.

5. A response under subparagraphs (a) or (b) of paragraph 4 shall relate to the category or categories specified for the chemical in Annex III.

6. A final decision should be accompanied by a description of any legislative or administrative measures upon which it is based.

7. Each Party shall, no later than the date of entry into force of this Convention for it, transmit to the Secretariat responses with respect to each chemical listed in Annex III.  A Party that has provided such responses under the Amended London Guidelines or the International Code of Conduct need not resubmit those responses.

8. Each Party shall make its responses under this Article available to those concerned within its jurisdiction, in accordance with its legislative or administrative measures.

9. A Party that, pursuant to paragraphs 2 and 4 above and paragraph 2 of Article 11, takes a decision not to consent to import of a chemical or to consent to its import only under specified conditions shall, if it has not already done so, simultaneously prohibit or make subject to the same conditions:

(a) Import of the chemical from any source; and

(b) Domestic production of the chemical for domestic use.

10. Every six months the Secretariat shall inform all Parties of the responses it has received.  Such information shall include a description of the legislative or administrative measures on which the decisions have been based, where available.  The Secretariat shall, in addition, inform the Parties of any cases of failure to transmit a response.

 

Article 11

Obligations in relation to exports of chemicals listed in Annex III

1. Each exporting Party shall:

(a) Implement appropriate legislative or administrative measures to communicate the responses forwarded by the Secretariat in accordance with paragraph 10 of Article 10 to those concerned within its jurisdiction;

(b) Take appropriate legislative or administrative measures to ensure that exporters within its jurisdiction comply with decisions in each response no later than six months after the date on which the Secretariat first informs the Parties of such response in accordance with paragraph 10 of Article 10; (c)           Advise and assist importing Parties, upon request and as appropriate:               

(i) To obtain further information to help them to take action in accordance with paragraph 4 of Article 10 and paragraph 2 (c) below; and               

(ii) To strengthen their capacities and capabilities to manage chemicals safely during their life-cycle.

2. Each Party shall ensure that a chemical listed in Annex III is not exported from its territory to any importing Party that, in exceptional circumstances, has failed to transmit a response or has transmitted an interim response that does not contain an interim decision, unless:

(a) It is a chemical that, at the time of import, is registered as a chemical in the importing Party; or

(b) It is a chemical for which evidence exists that it has previously been used in, or imported into, the importing Party and in relation to which no regulatory action to prohibit its use has been taken; or

(c) Explicit consent to the import has been sought and received by the exporter through a designated national authority of the importing Party.  The importing Party shall respond to such a request within sixty days and shall promptly notify the Secretariat of its decision.

The obligations of exporting Parties under this paragraph shall apply with effect from the expiration of a period of six months from the date on which the Secretariat first informs the Parties, in accordance with paragraph 10 of Article 10, that a Party has failed to transmit a response or has transmitted an interim response that does not contain an interim decision, and shall apply for one year.

Article 7

Listing of chemicals in Annex III

1. For each chemical that the Chemical Review Committee has decided to recommend for listing in Annex III, it shall prepare a draft decision guidance document.  The decision guidance document should, at a minimum, be based on the information specified in Annex I, or, as the case may be, Annex IV, and include information on uses of the chemical in a category other than the category for which the final regulatory action applies.

2. The recommendation referred to in paragraph 1 together with the draft decision guidance document shall be forwarded to the Conference of the Parties.  The Conference of the Parties shall decide whether the chemical should be made subject to the Prior Informed Consent procedure and, accordingly, list the chemical in Annex III and approve the draft decision guidance document.

3. When a decision to list a chemical in Annex III has been taken and the related decision guidance document has been approved by the Conference of the Parties, the Secretariat shall forthwith communicate this information to all Parties.

Article 5

Procedures for banned or severely restricted chemicals

1. Each Party that has adopted a final regulatory action shall notify the Secretariat in writing of such action.  Such notification shall be made as soon as possible, and in any event no later than ninety days after the date on which the final regulatory action has taken effect, and shall contain the information required by Annex I, where available.

2. Each Party shall, at the date of entry into force of this Convention for it, notify the Secretariat in writing of its final regulatory actions in effect at that time, except that each Party that has submitted notifications of final regulatory actions under the Amended London Guidelines or the International Code of Conduct need not resubmit those notifications.

3. The Secretariat shall, as soon as possible, and in any event no later than six months after receipt of a notification under paragraphs 1 and 2, verify whether the notification contains the information required by Annex I.  If the notification contains the information required, the Secretariat shall forthwith forward to all Parties a summary of the information received.  If the notification does not contain the information required, it shall inform the notifying Party accordingly.

4. The Secretariat shall every six months communicate to the Parties a synopsis of the information received pursuant to paragraphs 1 and 2, including information regarding those notifications which do not contain all the information required by Annex I.

5. When the Secretariat has received at least one notification from each of two Prior Informed Consent regions regarding a particular chemical that it has verified meet the requirements of Annex I, it shall forward them to the Chemical Review Committee.  The composition of the Prior Informed Consent regions shall be defined in a decision to be adopted by consensus at the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties.

6. The Chemical Review Committee shall review the information provided in such notifications and, in accordance with the criteria set out in Annex II, recommend to the Conference of the Parties whether the chemical in question should be made subject to the Prior Informed Consent procedure and, accordingly, be listed in Annex III.

Article 9

Removal of chemicals from Annex III

1. If a Party submits to the Secretariat information that was not available at the time of the decision to list a chemical in Annex III and that information indicates that its listing may no longer be justified in accordance with the relevant criteria in Annex II or, as the case may be, Annex IV, the Secretariat shall forward the information to the Chemical Review Committee.

2. The Chemical Review Committee shall review the information it receives under paragraph 1.  For each chemical that the Chemical Review Committee decides, in accordance with the relevant criteria in Annex II or, as the case may be, Annex IV, to recommend for removal from Annex III, it shall prepare a revised draft decision guidance document.

3. A recommendation referred to in paragraph 2 shall be forwarded to the Conference of the Parties and be accompanied by a revised draft decision guidance document.  The Conference of the Parties shall decide whether the chemical should be removed from Annex III and whether to approve the revised draft decision guidance document.

4. When a decision to remove a chemical from Annex III has been taken and the revised decision guidance document has been approved by the Conference of the Parties, the Secretariat shall forthwith communicate this information to all Parties.