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Brexit Sparks Rise in Hazardous Chemical Trade

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The volume of chemicals traded under the European Union's Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Regulation significantly increased in 2021, according to the European Chemical Agency's (ECHA) latest annual report. This increase was largely due to the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

Exports of PIC chemicals from the EU increased by 19% in 2021, totaling 791,576 tonnes. Benzene exports saw the largest increase at 143%, totaling around 187,000 tonnes. Non-EU countries mainly imported benzene for use in the petrochemical industry and for analytical research and development. Ethylene dichloride remained the most exported PIC chemical for the third year in a row.

Germany remained the top exporting member state, though exports decreased by 13% compared to 2020. The Netherlands saw a significant increase, largely due to exports of benzene to the UK. As a non-EU country, the UK also contributed significantly to the increase in imports to the EU, with a total of 883,120 tonnes imported in 2021, 120% more than in 2020. Around 284,000 tonnes came from the UK.

Benzene was the most imported PIC chemical, with 500,000 tonnes representing 57% of the total imported to the EU. Ethylene dichloride was the second most imported PIC chemical, with 73% coming from the UK.

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