The chemical industry in Korea is continuing a trend started three years ago, to allow and encourage
greater foreign involvement in Korean chemical businesses via direct investment and ownership by
multinational companies. These changes have generally been well accepted by the Republic of
Korea Government (ROKG), labor and Korean customers. They have also permitted some Korean
chemical companies to restructure and improve their operating performance and reduce their debt
to equity ratios.
This year Korea was admitted into the "Responsible Care Leadership Group" (RCLG) which is a
subgroup of the International Council of Chemical Association (ICCA). With their acceptance, comes
Korea's commitment to subscribe to the principles of "Responsible Care" in the chemical industry.
As the 46th country to make this commitment, those companies who are members of the "Korea
Responsible Care Council" will implement four key codes of practice. They include; process safety,
employee health and safety, pollution prevention, and emergency response. AMCHAM
wholeheartedly supports the admission of Korea into this Council.
A new proposal on packaging waste from the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) will become
effective in 2003. This new law will require the manufacturers or fillers of packaging to collect, sort
and recycle their own packaging waste. This proposal is a major concern to many international
companies who import products into Korea as well as foreign companies exporting to this country.
This regulation was enacted at the request of the Korea Customs Service (KCS) to facilitate the
clearance of imported goods. In April 2000, with the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
Trade & KCS, the MOE amended the regulation to allow the use of the same registration number for
identical chemical substances. This change greatly reduced the number of applications and
submissions to the Korea Chemical Management Association (KCMA) for foreign manufacturers and
their importers. Originally a separate Certificate of Compliance was required for every customer of
every importer. However, some companies have recently reported that the interpretation of these
regulations varies between different customs offices. For example, they reported that in a certain
customs office that KCS requested a separate document be provided requiring proof of the
relationship between the offer agent and the importer, rather than accepting the modified
requirements that Ministry of Environment (MOE) and KCS have agreed upon. There should be
consistency and uniformity in the Korean Regulations and their enforcement.
By introducing a self-certificate system, most proprietary composition details related to chemical
products can better be protected. But, there is still concern over the disclosure of confidential
business information for certain chemicals and chemical compounds if the self-certificate process
is not applicable. We urge that this confidential business information be protected in a more formal
way, such as protection by law. However, it is greatly reduced with the KCS registration number
being harmonized by chemical compound and/or manufacturer and not being specific for each
Currently all chemicals must be reregistered annually. This is far too frequently for the vast majority
Requlations should be applied consistently throughout Korea. There should not be substantial
differences in the interpretation and enforcement of the law at different ports of entry. It is
recommended that the renewal period of registrations be extended to at least 3 years. This is
consistent with standards on Material Safety Data Sheets on all chemical substances. The possible
exceptions could be those chemicals that are on the Korean Hazardous Substance List or those for
which there are concerns on human health or the environment. Currently there are less than 1000
chemicals that would fit into this category. These chemical substances should stay on the annual
renewal cycle. MOE Package Waste Recycling Law
The current plan by MOE to enact legislation to force manufacturers (mainly fillers) to collect, sort
and recycle their own packaging materials, starting January, 2003, is of concern to many companies.
This proposal would impose unfair burdens on both domestic and international manufactures and
could also exclude some international companies from selling their products in the Korean market.
Currently there are taxes imposed on such items as plastics to offset the costs of recycling. In
addition there are well established commercial and government programs to recycle many materials
in Korea. In the opinion of the AMCHAM Chemical Committee, these programs work well and are
operated by experts in the areas of waste collection and recycling. Any desired improvements
should be directed towards existing systems, not via duplicate efforts of companies who are not
skilled in collection and recycling of waste. The Chemical committee has recently been advised that
the Government's plan is to abolish the current deposit system with the introduction of the new
Package Waste Recycling Law. This would allow domestic manufactures to contract with the
existing recycling companies at hopefully the same or lower cost than the current tax. However
there still remains the issue that this law could unfairly exclude international companies from selling
their products in the Korean market.