Today Vietnamese chemical industry continues to grow with the flourish of the country’s manufacturing industry because manufacturing processes need various chemicals as raw materials. The country now plans to improve productivity of existing chemical plants and to construct new chemical plants pursuant to the Prime Minister’s Decision No. 1621/QD-TTg approving the master plan on development of Vietnam’s chemical industry through 2020, with a vision to 2030, issued in 2013. According to the master plan, it is expected that by 2025, the Vietnamese chemical industry will be able to meet 80-90% of the domestic demands for general inorganic chemicals (e.g. caustic soda, sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid, hydrochloric acid, nitric acid and ammonia).

While achieving such substantial growth of the chemical industry, in Vietnam, enough attention has yet been given to chemical safety. For example, in January and February of both 2018 and 2019, businesses handling industrial chemicals and/or hazardous chemicals in the Ho Chi Minh City were inspected pursuant to directions issued by the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee. The inspections resulted in fine of 343 million Vietnam Dong in total and 22 cases of administrative penalties. During the inspections, Ho Chi Minh City Department of Industry and Trade inspectors found that some businesses stored hazardous chemicals (e.g. chemicals with toxicity, corrosiveness, flammability, or other hazardous property) in warehouses located in residential areas.  Furthermore, some warehouses did not satisfy fire/explosion safety requirements and had not undergone legally mandated inspections nor obtained approval on fire prevention/extinguishing activities.

As summarized above, in recent years, many laws and regulations for controlling chemical substances have been promulgated in Vietnam. With this move, the government aims to prevent environmental pollution and adverse effects on human health caused by chemical substances amid the growth of the domestic chemical industry. In 2012, the Decision on approval for plan for compilation of national chemical inventory and national chemical database (No. 768 / QD-TTg) was promulgated to expand domestic chemicals management. Pursuant to this Decision, surveys, information gathering, and development of technical plans were performed to compile a national chemicals list and a national chemical database.

In Vietnam, multiple authorities are responsible for chemical substances control. The Table below shows the authority responsible for each area. The center of chemicals control is the Vietnam Chemicals Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT). In the past, multiple departments of MOIT (e.g. the Heavy Industry Department and the International Cooperation Department) were involved in chemicals control. However, since January 2009, these functions were integrated into the Vietnam Chemicals Agency.

Table: List of competent authorities for chemicals control and areas of responsibility

  General
Chemical
Fertilizer Medicines for animals Radioactive
substances
Specified
chemicals
Medicines for humans Food
Additives
Ministry of Industry and Trade

Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development

Ministry of Health

Ministry of Science and Technology

Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment

Ministry of National Defense

Vietnam People’s Committee

There are many laws and regulations related to control of chemicals in Vietnam and the coverages of them are wide ranging. Among such many norms, the key documents are: Law on Chemicals (No.06/2007/QH12) of 2007, Decree specifying and providing guidelines for implementation of certain articles of the law on chemicals (No. 113/2017/ND-CP) of 2017, and the Circular on MOIT guidelines for implementation of certain articles of the law on chemicals and the governments decree no. 113/2017/ND-CP specifying and providing guidelines for implementation of certain articles of the law on chemicals (No. 32/2017/TT-BCT) of 2017. These three regulations cover the overall chemicals control and thus are indispensable to understand the chemicals control scheme in Vietnam.

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