The Law on Chemicals (hereinafter “the Law” or “the Law on Chemicals”) was promulgated on November 21, 2007 and was enacted on July 1, 2008. It is a law that comprehensively controls chemicals in the country and Swedish government gave supports for drafting the law. Previously, control of chemicals in Vietnam had put a focus on manufacturing chemicals. However, with the worsening environmental pollution, the Law on Chemicals, which covered all aspects of chemicals, was enacted. After the enactment of the Law, a number of regulations that aligned with international trends in chemical control (e.g. GHS, registration of chemicals, and chemicals in products) have been enacted.

The Table below shows the structure of the Law. As seen in it, the Law covers the entire life-cycle of chemicals such as handling of chemicals, formulation of a chemical industry master plan, production and trade of chemicals, transportation and storage of hazardous chemicals, import and export of chemicals, disposal of chemicals, classification and labeling  of chemicals, packaging of chemicals, response to incidents, registration of new chemicals, environmental protection, and state’s responsibilities.

Table: Structure of the Law on Chemicals

Chapter Title
1 General provisions
2 Developing the chemical industry
3 Chemical production and trading
4 Chemical classification, labeling and packaging and safety data sheets
5 Chemical use
6 Accident prevention and mitigation
7 Declaration, registration and provision of chemical information
8 Environmental protection and safety for community
9 State management responsibility for chemical handling
10 Implementation provisions

The Law classifies hazardous chemicals by their physical properties, according to the GHS classification principals, as follows:

  • (a) Explosive
  • (b) Strongly oxidative
  • (c) Strongly corrosive
  • (d) Flammable
  • (e) Acutely toxic
  • (f) Chronically toxic
  • (g) Causing irritation to humans
  • (h) Causing cancer or posing threats of causing cancer
  • (i) Causing genetic mutation
  • (j) Reproductively toxic
  • (k) Bio-accumulative
  • (l) Organically polluting and hard to decay
  • (m) Environmentally toxic

The Law defines the term “new chemical” as ” a chemical not yet listed in the national chemical inventory or foreign chemical inventories recognized by Vietnamese competent state agencies.” However, the national list has not been published to date, being a draft under consideration.

As stated in the beginning of this Chapter, in Vietnam several ministries are involved in chemicals control. Among them, the key controlling authority is the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Responsibilities of competent ministries are stipulated in Chapter IX of the Law (see Table below).

Table: Responsibilities of ministries involved in control of chemicals

Authorities Responsibilities
Ministry of Industry and Trade
  • To promulgate legal documents, strategies, plans on development of the chemical industry and technical regulations on chemical safety
  • To promulgate a list of chemicals to be controlled
  • To formulate a national chemical database
  • To perform the uniform management of the classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals, chemical registration and declaration, and chemical safety information
  • To  disseminate and educate the public about the law on chemicals
Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment
  • To promulgate according to its competence or submit to competent agencies for promulgation of regulations on environmental protection concerning chemical-related activities.
Ministry of Health
  • To manage chemicals used for pharmaceuticals for humans, germicidal and insecticidal substances for domestic and medical use
  • To coordinate with other ministries in formulating regulations on labor safety and sanitation in chemical-related activities
  • To coordinate with the Ministry of Industry and Trade in formulating lists of chemicals banned or restricted from production or trading in the health domain
  • To promulgate a list of chemicals banned from use, restricted from use, or permitted for use in the health domain, as well as a list of germicidal and insecticidal substances for household and medical use, pharmaceuticals, and food additives.
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
  • To manage chemicals used in cultivation, husbandry, aquaculture, animal health, plant protection and preservation and processing of agricultural, forest and aquatic products and food
  • To coordinate with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and concerned ministries in formulating lists of banned and restricted chemicals from production and trading
  • To promulgate regulations guiding the classification, labeling and creation of chemical safety data sheets for plant protection drugs.
Ministry of Science and Technology
  • To promulgate and announce according to its competence standards and technical regulations on chemical safety
  • To submit to competent agencies for promulgation policies on research into, development and application of technologies suitable to the use of less hazardous chemicals
Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs
  • To promulgate regulations on labor safety and sanitation of laborers engaged in chemical-related activities
  • To manage use of chemicals at job training establishments

 

Decree specifying and providing guidelines for implementation of certain articles of the law on chemicals (No. 113/2017/ND-CP)

This Decree is subordinate legislation of the Law on Chemicals. It was established on October 9, 2017 and enacted on November 25, 2017[1]. This Decree consists of 40 Articles in seven Chapters and six Annexes. The major provisions of the Decree can be summarized as follows:

  1. General requirements for ensuring safety in production and trading of chemicals
  2. Requirements for chemicals subject to conditional production or trade in industrial sector: conditions, documents, processes, and procedures for issuance of a certificate of eligibility for production or trade of conditional chemicals for production and trade in the industrial sector.
  3. Requirements for production or trade of industrial precursor chemicals; documents, processes and procedures required for issuance of a license for industrial precursor chemical export/import.
  4. Requirements for chemicals restricted from production or trade in industrial sector: documents, processes, and procedures for issuance of a license for restricted industrial chemical manufacturing and trade.
  5. Banned chemicals and toxic chemicals
  6. Prevention of and response to chemical incidents
  7. Safety distance for facilities handling hazardous chemicals
  8. Classification and safety data sheets
  9. Registration, declaration, and supply of information on chemicals
  10. Training on chemical safety

Most importantly, the Decree sets lists of chemicals of five types to be controlled in its Annexes.  Business operators must understand which types of chemicals they handle among the five lists.

Table: Lists of chemicals to be controlled[2]

Annex Title of list Major requirements
I Conditional chemicals for production and trade[3] in the industrial sector Earning a certificate is required for production or trade of listed chemicals.
=> Documents including the whole picture of the factory, details of chemical producing equipment of the factory, certificate of degree (bachelor’s degree or higher) of the technical director of the factory, SDSs of chemicals to be produced in the factory are required.
II Restricted chemicals for production and trade in the industrial sector Earning license is required for production or trade of these chemicals.
III Banned chemicals Production, import, or use of these chemicals are banned.
However, subject to approval of the Prime Minister, these chemicals are allowed to be produced, imported, or used for special purposes such as scientific research, national defense, and disease prevention.
IV Hazardous chemicals for which formulation of chemical incident prevention and response plans are required Businesses that produce, trade, store, or use these chemicals must formulate a chemical incident prevention and response plans and submit them to the competent ministry before the project starts its activity formally for examination and approval.
V Chemicals subject to compulsory declaration Prior declaration is required for production or import of these chemicals.

Hazards of conditional chemicals (Annex I), restricted chemicals (Annex II), and chemicals subject to compulsory declaration (Annex V) are classified as follows:

Classification of chemicals under control and hazards thereof[4]

 

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

This Circular was established and enacted on December 28, 2017. This is the lowest legislation among subordinate legislation of the Law on Chemicals. This Circular stipulates specific requirements for prevention of chemicals-related incidents, GHS classification, SDS preparation, declaration of imported chemicals, and obligation of annual reporting on chemicals. It also includes templates for various documents. This Circular includes a total of 10 Annexes, all of which are essential for those involved in chemical-related activities.

It should be noted that when this Circular was enacted, the following existing laws and regulations were abolished.

  • Circular No. 01/2006/TT-BCN
  • Decision No. 40/2006/QD-BCN
  • Circular No. 28/2010/TT-BCT
  • Circular No. 18/2011/TT-BCT
  • Circular No. 40/2011/TT-BCT
  • Circular No. 04/2012/TT-BCT
  • Circular No. 07/2013/TT-BCT
  • Circular No. 20/2013/TT-BCT
  • Circular No. 42/2013/TT-BCT Articles 6 and 7, Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 9, and Articles 10, 11, 12, 14, and 18
  • Circular No. 36/2014/TT-BCT
  • Circular No. 06/2015/TT-BCT Articles 1, 2, 3 and 4
  • Circular No. 04/2016/TT-BCT Articles 2 and 3
  • Circular No. 27/2016/TT-BCT Articles 4, Paragraph 1 and Article 5

 

[1]  The enactment of Decree No. 113/2017/ND-CP abolished Decrees No. 108/2008/ND-CP and No. 26/2011/ND-CP, both of which had previously given detailed provision on control of chemicals. Major changes that the Decree No. 113/2017/ND-CP provided included: deletion of the list of toxic chemicals, deletion of requirements for use of chemicals, and integration of different reporting schemes on chemical-related activities. As seen in these facts, the new Decree did not only tighten chemicals control, loosening some rules.

[2]  Annexes II, IV, V, VI, and VII are amended or newly established by Decree No. 26/2011/ND-CP.

[3]  “Trade” in Decree 113/2017/ND-CP is defined as “includes sale, export and import of chemicals to provide chemicals on the market for profitable purposes”.

[4]  Reproduced from handout for the presentation given by Mr. Van Huy Vuong from Vietnam Chemicals Agency of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, at Envix Seminar on Chemicals Control in Vietnam.
https://www.envix.co.jp/region/asia-oceania/asean/vn/seminar-20171023/