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OzonAction’s iPIC system helps prevent an illegal shipment of 72 tonnes of HCFC-22

【Date】2020-04-17【Source】UNEP OzonAction



Collaboration between China and Thailand using OzonAction’s informal Prior Informed Consent (iPIC) system has resulted in the prevention of a huge consignment of ozone-depleting and climate damaging HCFC-22.

 

In March 2020, China's Ozone Depleting Substance (ODS) Import/Export Management Office received an application to export 72 tonnes of HCFC-221 from a chemical company. The intended destination of the export was an importer in Thailand. A third-party intermediary had been employed to broker the trade.

 

Given the size of the requested export, the involvement of a third party, and a history of recent requests from Thailand, China’s ODS Import/Export Management Office used iPIC to investigate the legitimacy of the trade with the National Ozone Unit of Thailand.

 

iPIC is a voluntary and informal mechanism of information exchange on intended trade between countries in ODS and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and mixtures containing these substances. iPIC was created and is hosted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) OzonAction team. The system enables countries to share details of eligible importers and exporters with other member countries through a secure online platform. iPIC focal points can carry out easy consultations with their trading partner countries to verify intended shipments of ODS. iPIC has become a global voluntary initiative used by more than 100 like-minded states.

 

On receiving the iPIC query from China, Thailand, confirmed without delay, that the importing company was officially registered. However, the approved import licence was for a different manufacturer in China. Further investigation revealed that the importer in Thailand had not requested any imports from China in 2020.

 

Accordingly, China immediately rejected the export application, preventing a potential illegal trade of 72 metric tonnes of ODS. This was about 130,320 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, or 3.96 ODP2 tonnes.

 

The investigations didn’t stop there. China’s ODS team followed up with the Chinese exporter, while temporarily suspending the company’s ODS export applications. Investigators found that the exporting company was not involved in the fraud. With facilitation from the OzonAction team in Bangkok, it was concluded that the suspected counterfeit license was created by the third-party broker. China’s ODS team attempted to contact the broker, but as is common in smuggling cases, the contact details provided on the shipping documents were not genuine or current. As a result, China is planning to strengthen its review and management of the third-party brokers and intermediaries.

 

China is a long-time and proactive user of the iPIC mechanism. It has been using the system since 2013 and conducts around 300 iPIC queries every year. As of March 2020, China had already initiated 301 iPIC queries. 


Recent information on the successful implementation of iPIC in China. Of the approximately 300 queries per year, the majority of prevented trade or rejected requests were related to HCFC-22; trade in some other ODS was also prevented.

 

While the excellent cooperation between China and Thailand and the use of iPIC prevented this illegal transaction, this worrying example sends out an urgent warning to all countries. It shows that National Ozone Officers and customs authorities must remain vigilant against potential illegal trade in ODS and HFCs. It has also shown that regular screening of intended imports and exports through iPIC can be a mean to prevent illegal and unwanted trade.




 1. HCFC-22= chlorodifluoromethane, a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC

 2. ODP = Ozone depleting potential tonnes. For HCFC-22, 1 ODP tonne is equivalent to 18.18 metric tonnes.




 

(Source: UNEP OzonAction)






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