The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Chemical Dialogue hosted a discussion on the 2020-2023 strategic framework for the region. The Chemical Dialogue is the main forum for the chemical industry in Asia and the Pacific, which represents more than 45% of global chemical manufacturing – approximately 7% of global gross domestic product (GDP) – and over 69% of global jobs in the chemical industry.

According to the Chemical Dialogue secretariat, the industry plays a critical role in producing supplies to fight COVID-19, including masks, other personal protective equipment (PPE), and hand sanitizer.

The plenary meeting convened online from 5-6 November 2020 to discuss updating the APEC Chemical Dialogue Strategic Framework 2020-2023. The framework: integrates health, environmental, and sustainable development considerations related to sound chemicals management; reflects the chemical industry’s commitment to health and safety and to mitigating the impact of COVID-19 in the Asia-Pacific region by providing essential materials required to fight the pandemic; and articulates the Chemical Dialogue’s primary goals. These goals are:

  • facilitating trade and raising the standard of sound chemicals management by expanding and supporting regulatory cooperation and alignment in the region;
  • promoting understanding of the chemical industry’s role as a provider of innovative solutions for sustainable economic, environmental and social development; and
  • enabling effective cooperation between industry and governments to improve chemical product stewardship and safe use.

The Framework will guide the Dialogue’s priorities and actions through four working groups on: Regulatory Cooperation and Convergence; the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS); Marine Debris, a cross-cutting initiative to promote development of and investment in innovative solutions to land-based waste management; and Data Exchange, which enables the sharing of data and information on chemicals management.

In 2000, APEC ministers welcomed an initiative to establish the Chemical Dialogue. It focuses on challenges imposed by different approaches to regulation, including the difficulty of balancing the protection of trade secrets and confidential information with the need for transparency, facilitating data exchange, and the varying regulatory approaches to the treatment of chemicals. The APEC Chemical Dialogue also emphasizes the integration of its work with the international chemicals agenda. [APEC press release] [Overview of the Chemical Dialogue and Strategic Framework]