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Hazardous chemicals convention ratified

Hazardous chemicals convention ratified

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs has welcomed the news that New Zealand has ratified a key convention governing international trade in hazardous chemicals.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Phil Goff, deposited the instrument of ratification in New York overnight.

In a joint statement with Associate Commerce Minister John Tamihere, Marian Hobbs stressed the importance of New Zealand’s ratification of the Rotterdam Convention.

"New Zealand is among the first 50 countries to ratify the Convention in New York and this underscores this government's commitment to ensuring that hazardous chemicals are managed appropriately throughout their life cycle," Marian Hobbs said.

The Rotterdam Convention is an information exchange programme for international trade in hazardous chemicals. The government recently amended the Import Control Act 1988 to enable New Zealand to ratify this Convention.

John Tamihere said the change to the Import Control Act was significant as it brought under one piece of law the export controls needed to meet international obligations relating to chemicals, products, organisms, wastes or other substances that pose a risk to human health or to the environment.

"The Rotterdam Convention requires exporters trading in a list of hazardous substances to obtain the prior informed consent of importers before proceeding with the trade. It gives importing countries the tools and information they need to identify potential hazards and block the import of chemicals they cannot manage safely," Mr Tamihere said.

Marian Hobbs noted that although its ‘prior informed consent’ procedures have been implemented on a voluntary basis since the 1980s, the Rotterdam Convention will not enter into force until 50 ratifications have been deposited.

The Convention is supported worldwide by the chemical industry and non-governmental organisations concerned with the safe use of chemicals.

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