Regulatory Cooperation

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Ryan Baldwin
(202) 249-6517

The United States and some of its top trading partners regulate chemicals in different ways. Sometimes, varying regulatory approaches can create unnecessary, non-tariff barriers to chemicals trade, which can be resolved through regulatory cooperation. ACC promotes regulatory cooperation at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum’s Chemical Dialogue; in trade agreements, such as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement; in regional initiatives in Latin America and Southeast Asia; and in bilateral dialogues, such as the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council.

Regulatory cooperation seeks to reduce non-tariff barriers and make regulatory systems more efficient while continuing to maintain high levels of protection for human health and safety and the environment. Well-constructed trade agreements provide an ideal platform to prevent and reduce non-tariff barriers to trade through greater regulatory cooperation.

Criteria for Successful Regulatory Cooperation among Trading Partners

For ACC and its members, the goal of regulatory cooperation is to explore opportunities to create efficiencies within and between regulatory systems. U.S. chemicals manufacturers work with our trading partners to identify opportunities to align regulations so they can continue to protect human and environmental health and support new growth. We believe regulatory cooperation should not undermine or weaken regulatory mandates. Rather, it can help to ensure that those mandates do not result in unnecessary barriers to trade.

ACC has identified five criteria for successful chemical regulatory cooperation among the United States and its trading partners.

1. Scientific Coordination

Promoting enhanced coordination on scientific assessments could help prevent additional barriers to trade when revising or developing new regulations. For example, discrepancies in chemical assessments (risk assessment versus hazard assessment) could impose barriers to trade either directly or through secondary regulations, e.g., on cosmetics and food packaging.

Enhanced scientific cooperation could include:

  • Developing criteria for the reliability and quality of scientific data underpinning regulatory decisions;
  • Providing opportunities for and taking into account stakeholder input on emerging scientific issues; and
  • Considering the impact of new scientific developments on regulatory decisions.

2. Transparency

Transparent activities by – and between - regulators can help increase stakeholder confidence and support for regulatory cooperation.

Increased transparency in cooperative activity between regulators could include:

  • Undertaking stakeholder notice and comment on the proposed agenda for cooperation;
  • Communicating to stakeholders that the activity will address particular issues; and
  • Fostering stakeholder participation to ensure that a common understanding of the technical and scientific information exists and to expedite government assessment of chemicals.

3. Data and Information Sharing

Chemical regulatory cooperation that prioritizes sharing of data and information will help minimize demand for new information.

Cooperation on data and information sharing between regulators could include:

  • Identifying ways to eliminate unnecessary or duplicative generation, testing and submission of data to create efficiencies for both governments and industry; and
  • Committing to share information, data, and the interpretation of data as new assessment technologies emerge.

4. Prioritization of Chemicals for Review and Evaluation

Prioritization of chemicals in commerce for further assessment enables governments and industry to focus attention and limited resources on the substances of highest concern.

Enhanced cooperation on chemicals prioritization should:

  • Be science and risk-based, considering both the degree of hazard (hazard identification and characterization) and the extent of exposure potential;
  • Be based on existing, available information;
  • Have the flexibility to incorporate relevant scientific advances (e.g., understanding what emerging science and technology suggests for prioritization);
  • Provide an opportunity for stakeholder review and comment at key points in the prioritization process, including the opportunity to provide additional, existing information in advance of final prioritization decisions; and
  • Consider a chemical’s uses and applications in the prioritization review process.

5. Coherence in Chemical Assessment

Regulatory cooperation can help establish a common scientific foundation on which to base regulatory decisions. If both parties have confidence in their respective assessment procedures, they can identify additional efficiencies and reduce the burden associated with the assessment of priority chemicals to be shared between U.S. and other government regulators.

Greater coherence in chemical assessment can be facilitated by:

  • Understanding how common issues (e.g., identifying, prioritizing, and assessing existing chemical risks) are addressed in different jurisdictions, and how they can create certainty in the chemical assessment process; and
  • Establishing a common understanding on chemical assessments to reduce costs for governments and industry by avoiding duplication and unnecessary additional testing (final risk management decisions should remain sovereign decisions).

APEC Chemical Dialogue: Cooperation to Support Growth and Safety in the Asia-Pacific Region

The chemical industry is an essential driver of global economic growth and plays a critical role in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region. It is therefore imperative that governments and industry cooperate with one another on key trade and regulatory policy issues in order to achieve high standards of protection for human and environmental health and safety, foster greater innovation, and prevent barriers to trade.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Chemical Dialogue is the premier regional chemical-specific forum for fostering cooperation and taking actions that help its members achieve these high standards.

» APEC Chemical Dialogue: Critical For the Success of Chemical Manufacturers

The Chemical Dialogue helps the chemical industry work with governments and stakeholders to:

  • Prevent barriers to trade through regulatory cooperation, adoption of good regulatory practices, and alignment of customs practices for chemicals;
  • Promote greater alignment and enhance implementation of the UN Globally Harmonized System of Chemical Classification and Labels (GHS);
  • Address emerging issues such as marine debris and waste management of plastic;
  • Build capacity on risk assessment and risk management for chemical substances in real-world circumstances.

Trade Among APEC Member Economies

APEC member economies trade more within APEC in comparison with the rest of the world.

Over two-thirds of APEC chemical trade is intra-regional with reported exports valued at USD 2.9 trillion and report imports valued at USD 3.0 trillion (2011-2015).

The top five high-traffic chemical trade relationships by trade value are between (1) the U.S. and Canada, (2) the U.S. and Mexico, (3) the U.S. and China, (4) China and Korea, and (5) China and Japan.



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