The Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions

In 2004, Australia became a party to two international agreements relating to the trade of certain hazardous chemicals:

  • Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade
  • Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

To implement these conventions, controls on the import, manufacture, use and export of such chemicals have been introduced under the following legislation:

The Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Act 1992 makes provisions for the role of the APVMA in meeting Australia’s obligations under international agreements. Our role can include:

  • prohibiting the importing, manufacturing, exporting or other dealings of certain chemicals or products, or
  • prohibiting certain activities in relation to these chemicals either absolutely or subject to conditions.

It also includes providing information to other countries on the importing, manufacturing, exporting or other dealings with other chemicals that are the subject of international agreements. These agreements include the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. The Customs Regulations complement the Agvet Code Regulations by introducing controls at the border. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources assists in managing these controls through its Livestock Industries and Agvet Chemicals Branch.

The Rotterdam Convention

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade was adopted at a conference in Rotterdam in September 1998. The Australian Government ratified the Rotterdam Convention on 20 May 2004, and obligations relating to the convention came into force for Australia on 18 August 2004.

The Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure is a mechanism for formally obtaining and disseminating the decisions of importing parties about whether they wish to receive future shipments of those chemicals listed in Annex III of the convention and for ensuring compliance with these decisions by exporting parties.

All parties are required to make a decision as to whether they will allow future import of each of the chemicals in Annex III of the convention. All exporting parties are required to ensure that exports of chemicals subject to the PIC procedure do not occur contrary to the decision of each importing party.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will issue a notice in the Commonwealth of Australia Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Gazette when chemicals are added to the Rotterdam Convention. Previous notices were issued on:

For the current chemicals included under the Rotterdam Convention, you should refer to the Annex III Chemicals.

The Stockholm Convention

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment or both.

Exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) can lead to serious health effects including certain cancers, birth defects, dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to disease and damages to the central and peripheral nervous systems.

Control measures apply to the import, export, production, disposal and use of POPs. Participating governments also promote the best available techniques and best environmental practices for replacing POPs while preventing the production and use of new ones. The Australian Government ratified the Stockholm Convention on 20 May 2004, and obligations relating to it came into force for Australia on 18 August 2004.

For the current chemicals included under the Stockholm Convention, you should refer to the Listing of POPs in the Stockholm Convention.

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