A single agreement globally governs the import and export of  certain hazardous industrial chemicals and pesticides: the Rotterdam Convention. 

With growing trade in chemical products and pesticides, this text is a major step forward in the protection of human health and the environment from potential harm that some of these products could cause. It encourages the sharing of responsibility and cooperation in international trade. In addition, it contributes to the environmentally sound use of such products by simplifying the exchange of toxicological and eco-toxicological information, or information relating to safety, certified usage methods or even to waste management and waste recycling, etc.).

The Rotterdam Convention was adopted in Rotterdam in September 1998 and entered into force in February 2004. The European Union and Belgium ratified it in 2002 (decision 2003/106/CE and Belgian law of 07 October 2002). The list of signatory states can be viewed on-line.

Which are the products covered under the Rotterdam Convention?

For a hazardous industrial chemical or a pesticide to be covered under the prior informed consent procedure or " PIC procedure " and listed in the list of substances covered under this procedure (appendix III of the convention), two countries belonging to different geographic regions  have to notify a ban or a severe restriction of use of this product to the convention's secretariat.

The requisite information is then circulated by the secretariat to all Parties to enable them to take an informed decision whether to accept or refuse import. . Every six months the secretariat informs all Parties of the responses received by publishing the so-called "PIC circulars".  The Parties meet every 2 years to assess the effectiveness of the PIC procedure and make any amendments to it if required.

At present, 33 pesticides and 14 industrial chemicals are covered under the PIC procedure.

The list of new substances under evaluation is available on-line. 

However, a country that plans to export a chemical that is banned or severely restricted for use within its territory , must inform the importing Party that such export will take place and provide to the importer full information about the product in question, about inherent risks and about the precautionary measures.

This is the " export notification procedure ".  This procedure is applicable before the first shipment and annually thereafter until this product becomes subject to the "PIC procedure" and the importing Party has provided an import response for the chemical which has been distributed.

For further information, view the site Rotterdam Convention.