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On 17 February 2023 Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA), the Singapore Civil Defense Force (SCDF), and Singapore Customs issued a letter titled “Joint Regulatory Control of Scheduled Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) Chemicals."
The letter informed the industry of the upcoming changes to the regulatory control of chemical weapons, which are now shared by the three Singapore authorities. By 21 August 2023 companies engaging in the controlled acclivities of certain chemical weapons must obtain approval from the NEA or SCDF, in addition to the Singapore Customs’ licensing requirements.
This action finalized the proposal made in June and December 2022. As a result, control of chemical weapons in Singapore is now jointly regulated by the three authorities.
Current Regulatory Control of CWC Chemicals
Currently, companies that intend to engage in controlled activities relating to scheduled chemical weapons must apply for Singapore Customs’ permits (CWC license) through the declaration system called TradeNet. The enforcement is part of the country’s obligations under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling, and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (CWC Convention), which Singapore ratified in 1997. Currently, 47 scheduled CWC chemicals are subject to these requirements.
New Requirements of NEA and SCDF Permits for Certain Scheduled CWC Chemicals
Per the attached Annex A of the letter (list of scheduled CWC chemicals), two authorities will co-regulate certain scheduled CWC chemicals to enhance in-country safety in addition to those required by Singapore Customs. Specifically, NEA will define 35 chemicals of the 47 scheduled CWC chemicals as hazardous substances (HS) under the Environmental Protection and Management Act. Meanwhile, SCDF will classify 12 chemicals under the flammable material (FM) definition per the Fire Safety Act and the Fire Safety (Petroleum & Flammable Materials) Regulations.
From 21 August 2023 companies engaging in controlled activities related to regulated substances must have the approval from these two authorities (a hazardous substances license from the NEA or petroleum and flammable material license from the SCDF). However, businesses are encouraged to start applying for and updating the permits from 1 March 2023 onward. Note that some chemicals can be qualified for mixture and threshold quantity exceptions and exclusions as specified in the list of scheduled CWC chemicals. Thus, they will not be subject to the licensing requirements.
The authorities plan to implement a more streamlined Harmonized System Code and Product Code paring systems to facilitate compliance with the new changes. The expected implementation timeline is by Q2 2023.
The changes add extra burden to businesses. By 21 August 2023 companies wishing to engage in activities related to affected chemicals must comply with the hazardous substance licensing from the NEA and petroleum and flammable material license from the SCDF in addition to those of the Singapore Customs. Manufacturers and importers of chemical products in Singapore should review the list of chemicals and types of activities and follow the license application processes enforced by each authority.
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