About the Convention
The Rotterdam Convention is a global treaty to manage chemicals in international trade. The Convention supports parties with the exchange of information on hazardous chemicals and their potential risks. The aim is to inform and improve national decision making.
Countries that ratify the Convention agree to the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure. This means that countries must decide whether to allow imports of certain hazardous chemicals, and under what conditions. Substances that are subject to this PIC procedure are listed in Annex III of the convention. Each country’s decisions are recorded in a publicly accessible database. Exporting countries must make sure that producers in their jurisdiction comply with these decisions.
Ratifying the Convention
Australia ratified the Rotterdam Convention on 20 May 2004. At the time, the Convention listed 27 chemicals in Annex III. Now there are over 50 listed chemicals.
Whenever a new chemical is added to the Convention, Australia decides whether to allow or ban future imports of that chemical. This decision is then published in the PIC database.
As a party, Australia must ensure that local exporters do not export Annex III chemicals without appropriate consent from the overseas importer.
Administering the Convention
Australian Government agencies manage our involvement and obligations under the Rotterdam Convention.
The Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment leads Australia’s involvement in the Rotterdam Convention. Other agencies that help control import and export of chemicals listed in the Convention are the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS), the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) and the Australian Border Force.
Importing or exporting an Annex III chemical
If you want to import or export an Annex III chemical in Australia, you must first determine your obligations. You can consult the relevant authority, depending on whether your chemical is a pesticide or industrial chemical.
If a chemical is subject to international trade controls under the Rotterdam Convention and the Stockholm Convention, the Stockholm Convention controls are imposed, as these are more stringent.
Exporting a chemical that is severely restricted or banned in Australia
The Rotterdam Convention requires Australia to provide an export notification when exporting chemicals that are severely restricted or banned in Australia. If you are exporting such a chemical, you must inform the relevant authority depending on whether the chemicals is a pesticide or industrial chemical.
To find out whether your chemical classifies as ‘severely restricted or banned’, contact the relevant authority.