New regulations in China
Once a European shipper has complied with the international dangerous goods regulations for sea and air transport, the question arises as to whether it has done everything necessary to eliminate transport delays.
“Chinese ADR” and administrative measures for the transport of dangerous goods
This review of legal developments starts with the release on 1 December 2018 of non-binding Regulations Concerning Road Transport of Dangerous Goods (JT/T 617) or “Chinese ADR” by the Chinese Ministry of Transport (MOT).
Just over a year later, on 1 January 2020, the first binding Administrative Measures for Safety of the Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road were enacted. These wide-ranging regulatory measures are mandatory for all parties engaged in the carriage of dangerous goods and they contain a list of penalty provisions. With the implementation of these “new” measures, the regulatory environment in China is increasingly starting to resemble the ADR agreement that applies inside and outside Europe. This might pave the way for ratification of the ADR by China at a future date.
Chinese customs regulations control the transport of dangerous goods
New customs regulations governing the import and export of dangerous goods into and out of China took effect in early 2021. Responsibility for the inspection of imported and exported hazardous chemicals there rests with the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC). On 10 January 2021, the GACC issued Announcement No. 129 on Questions Regarding the Inspection on Imported and Exported Hazardous Chemicals and their Packaging. This serves as the reference document for the customs authority to fulfil its duties regarding the inspection and control of hazardous chemicals listed in the national Inventory of Hazardous Chemicals (2015 Edition) and of their packaging. It requires importers and exporters of hazardous chemicals, or their representatives, to supply data on hazardous materials and chemicals, as well as declarations of conformity, and inspection and identification reports. A supplementary interpretative regulation shows an example of the full UN specification marking for dangerous-goods packaging and in so doing has more or less made this a requirement.
Regional transport bans on highly toxic and other chemicals
Apart from national regulations, regional regulations have also been adopted. The Yangtze River Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China took effect on 1 March 2021. Article 51(2) of the law prohibits the transport of highly toxic chemicals and other hazardous chemicals along the ports of the Yangtze River basin, including the Waigaoqiao Port Area. A comparable regulation does not yet exist for other ports in China. The chemicals affected are, on one hand, the highly toxic chemicals listed in the 2015 Inventory of Hazardous Chemicals and, on the other, the chemicals listed in the 2019 Inventory of Prohibited Dangerous Goods by Inland River. It is prohibited to use the waterway to import or export the listed chemicals or for transit or transfer thereof. Under Article 90, violations of the provisions of the law are subject to fines, enterprise closures or licence revocation.
Guangdong launches pilot project on QR codes
In July 2021, Guangdong Province launched a pilot project for the automatic generation of a QR (Quick Response) code for hazardous chemicals registered by producers and importers. This code provides access to essential safety information on dangerous goods, and other details such as the company’s name and measures to be adopted in an emergency. Foreign exporters are required to assist Chinese importers with registering and obtaining the QR code by providing the necessary information and data. The code is affixed to dangerous goods labels, packaging, containers/tankers, or vehicles. The aim of this measure, which is scheduled to be rolled out nationwide, is to support the supervision of hazardous chemicals in China and so increase safety both in handling and transportation and in an emergency. Under the working title “one enterprise, one chemical product and one QR code” the nationwide rollout was expected to happen sometime this year. In September 2021, the National Registration Center for Chemicals (NRCC) updated its “Hazchem” registration platform on which the QR System is based. If a company supplies the same product to different importers in China, each of those importers must complete a separate registration because each QR code is unique. The QR code can be read using Wechat or Alipay.