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Exports of hazardous chemicals increase while imports continue to decrease

EU exporters have reported an 8 % increase in their exports of certain chemicals banned or restricted in the EU. This breaks the trend of the previous two years where exports of these chemicals regulated under the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Regulation decreased. The total amount of imports has decreased for the second year in a row.

Helsinki, 13 December 2021 – The latest annual report on exports and imports under the PIC Regulation shows a 47 % increase in exports of ethylene dichloride (1,2-dichloroethane) in 2020.

Around 262 000 tonnes of ethylene dichloride were exported to non-EU importing countries making it the most exported PIC chemical for the second year in a row. This industrial chemical is mainly used to produce PVC and as a solvent, as well as for analytical research and development.

Chlorate remained the second most exported PIC chemical despite a 12 % decrease to approximately 106 000 tonnes. Chlorate is mostly used as a disinfectant or bleaching agent.

With just a 1 % increase in exports compared to 2019, creosote replaces benzene in third spot. Creosote is mainly used as a refractory material or wood preservative. Exports of benzene decreased by 18 % in 2020.

Overall, the total amount of exported PIC chemicals in 2020 was around 667 000 tonnes, an 8 % increase. Exports were reported for 102 PIC chemicals – 15 more than in 2019.

Three most exported PIC chemicals:

Substance Quantity in 2020 (tonnes) / Variation vs 2019
Ethylene dichloride (1,2-dichloroethane) 262 182 (+47 %)
Chlorate 106 817 (-12 %)
Creosote and creosote-related substances 94 032 (+1 %)


According to the importers’ reports, the total amount of imports at EU level has decreased for the second year in a row.

Following the same trend as for exports, benzene imports dropped to around 325 000 tonnes – an 18 % decrease. However, it still remains the most imported PIC chemical representing 81 % of the total amount of imported PIC chemicals in 2020.

Ethylene dichloride (1,2-dichloroethane) was again the second most imported PIC chemical, although imports also decreased by 35 % to almost 58 000 tonnes.

Lead compounds were the third most imported PIC chemical in 2020, recording a 14 % increase in imports compared to 2019. Imports of lead compounds represented only 2 % of the total imports of PIC chemicals in 2020.

The total amount of imported PIC chemicals in 2020 was approximately 401 000 tonnes, a 20 % decrease compared to 2019. Imports of 75 PIC chemicals were reported, which was 8 more than in 2019.

Three most imported PIC chemicals:

Substance Quantity in 2019 (tonnes) / Variation vs 2018
Benzene 325 396 (-18 %)
Ethylene dichloride (1,2-dichloroethane) 57 901 (-35 %)
Lead compounds 7 535 (+14 %)



The Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Regulation is the EU’s contribution to the UN Rotterdam Convention. Through this, concerned countries can take informed safety decisions about the trade of severely hazardous chemicals. This contributes to reducing emissions of and exposure to hazardous chemicals in third countries.

Article 10 of PIC requires exporters and importers to give information about the annual trade of Annex I chemicals to their designated national authorities (DNAs) by 31 March of the following year. Each EU Member State then has to provide the aggregated information to ECHA so that it can be summarised at Union level and non-confidential information can be made publicly available.

22 Member States provided data to ECHA on exports of PIC chemicals from the EU in 2020, from 501 exporters. Five Member States and the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland) declared that they had not exported PIC chemicals.

20 Member States provided data on imports of PIC chemicals into the EU in 2020, from 137 importers. Seven Member States and the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland) declared that they had not imported PIC chemicals.