Asian paint and coatings regulatory round up: June 2024 – Vietnam expands import safety controls to all chemical inputs

17 June 2024

Jens Kastner, Ahmad Pathoni, Kathryn Wortley, Mini Pant Zachariah and Poorna Rodrigo report for PPCJ on the latest regulation updates affecting the coatings industry across Asia, including Vietnam, China, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, New Zealand, India, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand


Vietnam’s ministry of industry and trade (MOIT) has released a draft amendment to the country’s Law on Chemicals. The draft amendment stipulates that all chemicals, including paint and coating ingredients, must be declared when imported through Vietnam’s National Single Window Information Portal. Under current regulations, only certain chemicals must be declared when imported, leading to the possibility of many dangerous and toxic chemicals imported into Vietnam. The MOIT explained that this weakness was especially relevant for new chemicals imported into Vietnam for the first time, impeding the government’s ability to update the list of chemicals that must be declared, hindering the identification of new chemicals, needed to apply management and safety procedures.


China’s State Council (the country’s cabinet) has released an action plan to promote large-scale equipment renewals and trade-ins of consumer goods, including the paint and coating sector. The government will promote large-scale equipment updates in key industries such as petrochemicals, as well as paint and coating customers in the steel, non-ferrous metals, building materials, machinery, automobiles, light industry, textiles and electronics sectors. By 2027, they will strive to achieve an increase of more than 25% in equipment investment in the industrial sector compared with 2023. Coatings manufacturers can expect relevant support policies, such as tax incentives, special re-loans, fiscal and taxation financial support and strengthened standard guidance.  

South Korea

South Korea’s environment ministry has been (from April 22 to June 21) intensively inspecting the safety management status of hazardous chemicals at 400 workplaces nationwide. This move is part of a broad government policy entitled – ‘Great Safety Transformation in Korea’. The inspections have particularly focused on 100 businesses that store significant quantities of hazardous chemicals located near rivers. Otherwise, businesses vulnerable to chemical accidents have been independently selected by their relevant local environmental office for inspection.


Following a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck eastern Taiwan in early-April, Taiwan’s Cabinet has approved several post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction plans for the region that will lift demand for paints and coatings. The total budget for the plans is calculated at Taiwan New Dollar TWD28.55bn (US$880M), with TWD18.44bn to repair and rebuild public buildings, TWD5.84bn to rebuild private residences and provide shelter. The Taipei Mayor Chiang Wan-an, for his part, announced that Taiwan’s capital Taipei, which was hit by the quake, would enter a “major urban renewal era”.   


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The Philippines

The Philippines-based coatings manufacturers are set to benefit from the US and Japan government in April announcing a set of infrastructure projects in the Philippines, the first under an initiative to accelerate investments in partner countries in the Indo-Pacific region. The so-called Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment PGI Luzon corridor will see the three countries “accelerate coordinated investments in high-impact infrastructure projects”, in transport (rail and ports modernisation), clean energy supply chains, health facilities and more. 

Luzon island is home to the Philippines capital Manila. The announcement came months after Manila withdrew from China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects following disputes over Beijing’s claims to islands also claimed by the Philippines. BRI is credited for lifting demand for paints and coatings elsewhere in the region.  


The Japan Paint Manufacturers Association (JPMA) has updated a list of certified household paint products on March 8, (2024), “so that consumers can use paints with peace of mind”. The list was created by the JPMA’s household paint subcommittee in cooperation with 16 JPMA member companies whose paints are included. The document outlines the substances’ purpose and where they can be used, as well as their finishing details and categories, but consumers are encouraged to check details with the manufacturer.  

New Zealand

A new pathway for hazardous substance applications has allowed New Zealand regulators to approve such chemicals if regulators in Canada, the European Union (EU), Australia, the USA or the UK have accepted their usage, New Zealand’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has said. For example, when approving the application for zinc borate, widely used in PVC coating and polymers, the agency considered the rules for Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority and the US EPA, alongside information and assessments from the EU’s European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). The zinc borate application took only “six working days to decide, and we’ve now approved another application using this pathway,” it said. 


The Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) has highlighted the petrochemicals and chemicals sector, including the paint and coating industry, as being a core part of an investment promotion boom in the country, which requests for investment aid surging by a 31% to Thai Baht THB228.2bn (US$6.2bn) within the first quarter alone (January–March 2024) year-on-year. Requests for investment aid were also focused on major coatings purchasers in the automotive sector, said the BOI. It added that the number of projects applications that quarter – at 724, was up 94% year-on-year, with 460 applications involving foreign investments, it said.  


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The Indonesian government has said it will reduce the reliance on imported materials and equipment, including paints and coatings, for the country’s major infrastructure projects, including the construction of a new national capital on Borneo, Nusantara. The Public Works and Housing Ministry announced last month (April) that only 5% of public works projects budgets could be spent on imported materials, falling to 4% in 2026. The goal is encouraging the use of materials certified with local content levels and national standards to ensure quality and promote domestic industry growth, said ministry official Disaintina Ari Nusanti. 


Malaysia is set to bolster chemical safety and worker protections with a new workplace law taking effect June 1, 2024. An Occupational Safety and Health (Amendment) Act 2022 (OSHA 2022) introduces stricter guidelines for handling hazardous substances, including certain paint and coating ingredients, requiring risk assessments, emergency protocols, and increased fines for non-compliance. 
The law also expands workplace safety coverage to all industries and workplaces, mandating the appointment of safety coordinators and empowering employees to remove themselves from dangerous situations. It mandates the proper handling and storage of chemicals. Employers and self-employed workers breaching the law could face fines of up to Malaysian Ringgit MYR500,000 (USD106,000). 


The Indian government has deferred the implementation of ‘quality control orders’ for four chemicals widely used in the paint and coating sector – ethylene vinyl acetate copolymers, acrylonitrile, styrene (vinyl benzene) and maleic anhydride. The department of chemicals and petrochemicals (within the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers) said the implementation of the orders for chemicals ethylene vinyl acetate copolymers has been advanced to October 3, 2024, and for the other three chemicals to October 24, 2024. 


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