From March 30th 2014 in accordance with Circular 04/2012/TT-BCT issued by Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam (MOIT), chemical substances that are manufactured or imported by enterprises in Vietnam must be routinely classified and labeled. Classification and labeling requirements are based on GHS version 3. GHS requirements will be extended to all mixtures from March 30th 2016.
Chapter 2 of the circular stipulates that any enterprise or individual that manufactures or imports chemical substances is responsible for labeling them prior to market circulation. The classifications in the circular contain all 16 physical hazards, 2 environmental hazards and 7 out of 10 health hazards mentioned in UN GHS file. The 3 health hazards that are not included are “Specific target organ toxicity – single exposure”, “Specific target organ toxicity – repeated exposure” and “Aspiration hazard”. It should be noted that all labels are required to be written in Vietnamese.
Some chemicals are exempt from classification and labeling obligations, including temporarily imported chemicals that will be re-exported and chemicals used for research. In addition, enterprise confidentiality requirements must be carefully outlined and verified by Vietnamese authorities prior to market circulation.
Vietnam is an agriculturally based economy and as such, one of the main purposes of its chemical industry is to provide agrochemical precursors for products such as fertilizers and insecticides. The government has been making headway in recent years integrating Vietnamese GHS and UN GHS. MOIT has already issued other legislations and regulations on GHS implementation, including Decree No. 90/2009/ND-CP on administrative punishment on chemical activity, and Circular 39/2011/TT-BCT on regulation for chemicals declaration. Vietnam Chemicals Agency (Vinachemia) was founded to develop strategies and road map efficient and safe management of the chemical industry. Vinachemia has held numerous seminars on GHS implementation and sent staff to international workshops and training programs. However, the progress of GHS implementation in Vietnam’s chemical industry is still relatively slow primarily due to industry’s negative attitude towards GHS. The benefits that GHS brings such as increased protection of workers and safer and more reliable production for companies are still not fully appreciated by Vietnamese industry. To expedite implementation and ultimately acceptance of GHS, Vietnam’s government needs to play a more central role in information exchange and coordination among relevant parties and provide more technical guidelines.