Developing the fullest possible understanding of REACH, a European chemical-substances regulation for products exported to the EU, is essential for Vietnamese exporters, officials said at a workshop May 31 held in HCM City.

Under REACH (registration, evaluation, authorisation, and restrictions of chemicals), all chemicals produced in large volumes or considered potentially harmful to human health or the environment are subject to registration with the European Chemicals Agency.

"Better understanding about REACH would ensure the health of consumers and help producers prevent use of substances of very high concern," said Nudjarin Ramungul, acting director of Thailand 's Environment Research Unit, National Metal and Materials Technology Centre (MTEC) & National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) of the Ministry of Science and Technology.

She said that consumers were increasingly aware that hazardous quantities of restricted chemical substances in products posed threats to health, safety and the environment

Failure to comply with regulatory requirements could result in costly product recalls and damage to brand reputation.

"The list of chemicals or materials of concern changes periodically. The exporters need to be updated at least twice a year, and the exporters should then adjust the operations to keep pace with complex and dynamic requirements," she said.

Because European retailers and importers are now under greater pressure to ensure that their products meet regulatory requirements, they are requiring non-EU suppliers to fully follow REACH compliance.

Nguyen Minh Truc, technical manager of TUV Rheinland Vietnam , said: "REACH was created to give responsibility to manufacturers and importers to ensure the safety of substance contained in goods."

However, he pointed out the challenges local exporters face, including the complexity of REACH regulations and the language barrier.

In addition, testing costs were high and many enterprises did not know how to prepare safety data sheets (SDS).

At the seminar, Truc also spoke about features of the SDS, including chemical identification, hazards, fire protection and measures in case of accidents.

In addition, he also addressed issues that included prevention against exposure and human protection, transportation, relevant standards and toxicology and ecology information.

He said companies should set up a management system that would oversee substances of restriction.

At the workshop, representatives of footwear company World Cat Vietnam and chemical company BASF South East Asia Pte Ltd spoke about their experiences with REACH regulations.

The workshop was part of EuroCham's MUTRAP III project " Capacity Building on Trade Policy for Vietnamese Business Associations"./.