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Cambodia To Seek Protection From Chemical Imports

Cambodia is planning to apply to an international convention that could help reduce the number of illegal hazardous chemicals coming into the country, a senior official said last week.

The government is considering application to the UN’s Rotterdam Convention, which outlines responsibilities of states towards each other regarding chemicals.

“The ministry is considering convention membership because we want to prevent other countries from using Cambodia as a trash bin for their hazardous chemicals and pesticides,” Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun told a meeting of government and development officials on July 14.

The meeting was to discuss a draft law to bolster protections against pesticides and other dangerous chemicals.

The Rotterdam Convention requires proper labeling and and instructions from countries of origin for chemicals, as well as disclosures on restrictions or bans of the chemicals. Both Thailand and Vietnam are among the 134 parties to the convention.

Meanwhile, Cambodia struggles with dangerous chemicals, with only about a third of all chemicals in local markets registered with the Ministry of Agriculture. Of them, only 14 percent have instructions and other labels in Khmer.

“Joining the Rotterdam Convention is a necessity, because when there is the import of hazardous chemicals into our country, we will be informed in advance,” said Keam Makara Dy, a health program manager for the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture.