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On November 23, 2022, South Korean Ministry of Environment (MoE) released 11 candidate substances subject to authorization for public consultation in its Announcement No. 2022-671. Comments can be made from December 15, 2022 to February 13, 2023 (lasting 60 days). Substances subject to authorization under K-REACH are required to obtain the authorization from MoE prior to production, import or use in South Korea, even if the substances have already completed registrations under K-REACH.
From April to September 2022, the South Korean Ministry of Employment and Labor (MoEL) conducted self-check and inspections of material safety data sheets (MSDSs) in workplaces of enterprises manufacturing or importing chemicals. According to the results issued on November 3, 2022, half of the enterprises were found to have MSDS violations. The check mainly focused on the implementation status of the MSDS system and workers’ safety measures in enterprises that manufacture and import chemicals in large quantities.
On January 15, 2019, South Korea released the amendments to the Occupational, Safety and Health Act (known as OSHA). The amended OSHA came into force on January 16, 2020. In accordance with the amended OSHA, chemical substances or mixtures classified as hazards under the Korean GHS are required to submit MSDS to the Korean Ministry of Employment and Labor (MoEL) prior to manufacture/import.
On October 20, 2022, South Korea made amendments to the guidelines on registration procedures for existing chemical substances. The guidelines provide specific pre-registration and registration procedures for substances that are identified as existing chemical substances under Article 3 of the Notice on Existing Chemical Substances (Notice No.2021-160) yet cannot be searched as existing chemical substances on the National Chemicals Information System (NCIS). The amendments mainly focused on the pre-registration and registration procedures of multi-component reactants.
On 1 August 2022, South Korea published the revised K-REACH implementation rules. The revised rules ease the exemption requirements for new chemical substances with an annual import volume of less than 0.1t/y for R&D purposes by exempting the specific name and CAS number of the chemical substances.
The Ministry of Employment and Labor of South Korea released the proposed amendment to the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency (KOSHA) for public consultation on April 25, 2022, planning to add eight reproductive toxic substances to the list of “hazardous substances subject to management”.
On April 29, 2022, the South Korean Ministry of Environment issued the Specifications on Consumer Chemical Products Labelling and Advertising Language (Draft) to collect public comments by June 7, 2022. This Draft was drawn up under the provision of Paragraph 1, Article 34 of the Consumer Chemical Products and Biocides Safety Act (also known as the K-BPR), aiming at regulating consumer chemical packaging and advertising language, and preventing business fraud, thereby further protecting the health and safety of consumers.
In January 2022, the RCEP Agreement entered into force, covering 10 ASEAN countries, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. After RCEP comes into effect, more than 90% of the trade of goods in the region will eventually achieve zero tariffs, which involves the chemical industry with more than 1,000 tariff numbers of RCEP origin rules, benefiting the import and export trade of chemicals. Within the RCEP coverage, most countries, including China, have adopted GHS classification and labelling systems, which requires the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) and labels of chemicals to comply with the GHS-related regulations and standards of each country and region.
The latest OSHA amendments were published in 2019 by the Ministry of Employment of Labor (MoEL). Under the requirements of the 2019 OSHA Amendments, chemical manufacturers and importers in South Korea are obligated to prepare safety data sheets complying with Korean GHS standards for chemicals meet GHS hazard criteria, and submit the safety data sheets to the MoEL before in time.
Recently, South Korea’s Ministry of Environment (MoE) has released a series of deadlines, including the pre-notification deadline, approval deadline as well as the approval application submission deadline for the first batch of existing active substances. Under the requirements of the Consumer Chemical Products and Biocides Safety Act, any person who intends to manufacture or import active substance for use in biocidal products or treated articles must obtain approval from