Cefic report suggests European collaboration needed to improve chemical safety in Africa

A new report published by the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) has found that South West Asia and Africa are lagging behind in the adoption of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).

The research, which describes the current state of implementation of the GHS in 79 countries or regions, notes a ‘worrying trend’, as Africa shows the biggest population growth. This means that consumption is also expected to grow in the continent, alongside the need for chemicals, whether they are locally produced or imported.

African countries therefore urgently need an adequate chemicals management framework to ensure that consumers and workers use chemicals safely, Cefic added. GHS is a foundation of any chemicals management system; its implementation is a key step for all developing countries that do not yet have chemical legislation.

“We call on the European Commission to add a reference to GHS implementation and strict monitoring of the progress in future trade agreements between the EU [European Union] and other regions,” commented Veronique Garny, Cefic’s director of product stewardship. “The European Commission is expected to come up with a new EU’s Africa Strategy later this year. This could be a good opportunity to make GHS implementation an integral part of the Commission’s vision for a trade and development cooperation with this important region.

“The chemical industry also stands ready to support capacity building initiatives in developing countries and share expertise on safe management of chemicals. We fully support the UN goal of implementing GHS in all parts of the world.”

The status of implementation in the EU/European Economic Area has been noted as ‘good’ in the Cefic report, with some progress also being made in North America, the majority of South America, and South East Asia.

While Eastern European and Central Asian countries have adopted the GHS, they have yet to begin its implementation, the report added.

Some progress can also be expected from states in the Gulf region, while voluntary declarations have been made by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to implement the first edition of the GHS by 2020, and by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to implement the seventh revision by 2021.

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