Impact on China’s exports if Acetochlor and Phorate get listed in Rotterdam Convention 11-07-2017

As China’s pesticides industry relies heavily on exports, a listing of acetochlor and phorate in the Rotterdam Convention will inevitably hurt the market. The decision will likely be given at the next conference in April 2019.


The herbicide acetochlor and insecticide phorate have been added to the list of recommendation for the Rotterdam Convention. The final discussion on whether they get added to the list will be held in April 2019 at the next Conference. If those pesticides are added, the business of acetochlor in China will face a setback, since international trade faces more regulation and challenges. 

If acetochlor and phorate are listed in the convention, it will have a significant effect on China’s exports. For example, the importer has the right to get materials regarding restrictions and limitations on those products. Furthermore, the importer will use the materials in order to make decisions on whether it will allow or ban the importation of acetochlor and phorate, and then notify the Chinese government and the exports. This will not only seriously limit the import and export businesses of acetochlor and phorate, but it will also prolong the export cycle and increase export costs.

The recommendation is being reviewed by more than 250 experts of chemicals, and pesticides from all over the world. If accepted to the Rotterdam Convention, the two pesticides will become regulated strictly by international law, which will slow down the business significantly.

To be noticed, chemicals listed in the Rotterdam Convention are not banned. However, certain information must be exchanged between the exporting party and importing part. Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure must be followed.

At present, many developing countries fully exercise their rights as provided by the convention to keep out high-risk overseas pesticides.

According to the China Crop Protection Industry Association, China's pesticide output was 1.33 million tonnes, accounting for 48.8% of the global use.

The Rotterdam Convention

 The Rotterdam Convention is an organization dedicated to providing early warnings on hazardous chemicals and agrochemicals. It is formally known as the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade.

Such a multilateral treaty organization is necessary for global chemical trade observance since the dramatic growth in the worldwide chemical and agrochemical production, as well as the trade of those, has skyrocketed in the past decades. Single countries alone often don’t have the sufficient infrastructure to monitor hazardous and toxic chemicals by themselves, hence depending on an organization like the Rotterdam Convention.


The convention promotes an open exchange of information and calls on exporters of hazardous chemicals to use proper labelling, include directions on safe handling, and inform purchasers of any known restrictions or bans.


Up to today, the Convention has published a mandatory prior informed consent (PIC) procedure to monitor and control the import and export of 33 pesticides and 14 industrial chemicals, and circulate nationally importing decisions to all Parties to the Convention.


China, as one of the members of the Rotterdam Convention, signed the Convention in 2004 and ratified it in 2005.


Prior Informed Consent (PIC)

For chemicals listed in Annex III, the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure must be followed. Once a chemical is included in Annex III, a decision guidance document containing information concerning the chemical and the regulatory decisions to ban or severely restrict the chemical for health or environmental reasons is circulated to all Parties.


Parties have 9 months to prepare a response concerning the future import of the chemical. The import response can consist of either a final decision on allowing import of the chemical, not to allow import, or to allow import subject to specified conditions, or an interim response.


The import decisions are circulated via PIC circular every 6 months and exporting country Parties are obligated under the Convention to take appropriate measure to ensure that exporters within its jurisdiction comply with the decisions.


Acetochlor in China

Acetochlor is a selective herbicide, which has been used on maize in Sahelian West African countries. It poses a high risk to aquatic organisms as well as long-term risks to herbivorous birds and to humans.


Some acetochlor technical producers in China have suspended or even stopped producing the product during this period. Besides the production level, the domestic price and export volume of acetochlor products made in China witnessed downtrends as well. It seems that the domestic acetochlor producers are encountering a lot of difficulties.


According to CCM, Nantong Jiangshan Agrochemical & Chemicals, Zhongnongfa Henan Agrochemical, Jiangsu Changlong Agrochemicals, Shandong Zhongshi Pharmaceutical Jiangsu Huaihe Chemical, Shandong Qiaochang Modern Agriculture, Shandong Vicome Greenland, and Dalian Regar Pesticides. are the leading acetochlor producers in China, which will be affected the most by listing this herbicide in the Convention.


China is a large acetochlor exporter, able to increase exports of this herbicide by 34% YoY in the first half of 2017. The top 3 export destinations have been Thailand, Pakistan, and Argentina, accounting for 26.5%, 23.3%, and 19.3% of the total export share respectively. As all three nations are members of the Rotterdam Convention, a listing will affect the export from China significantly.


What’s more, acetochlor is also in the ninth rank in China’s best-selling herbicide brands under the brand name Saihesi by Nantong Jiangshan Agrochemical and Chemical.


Phorate in China

Phorate is an insecticide that has been used for example in Brazil as an insecticide in cotton, potato, coffee, beans and corn and is considered one of the most toxic organophosphate AChE inhibitors.


In China, the insecticide is on the list of pesticides under restricted use for vegetables, fruit trees, tea trees, and Chinese medicinal herbs, due to the high-toxic effects on human and animal health as well as a high-residue. It will be completely banned from October 1, 2018.


Since phorate does not have an important role in China’s pesticide market and will be banned in the country by late 2018, the inclusion on the list of Rotterdam Convention will not affect manufacturers as much as for acetochlor. However, importers and exporters need to be aware of the changes and adapt early on.


About CCM

CCM is the leading market intelligence provider for China’s agriculture, chemicals, food & ingredients and life science markets.


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