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Int'l Efforts to Check ODS Smuggling

A senior official from the national environmental watchdog said on Monday that China will cooperate more closely with Asian and Pacific countries to crack down on the illegal trade of ozone depleting substances (ODS).


"The move is in line with China's pledge to curb the smuggling of ODS," said Zhu Guangyao, vice director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).


He made the remarks at the opening ceremony of a coordination workshop for customs and ODS officers in South Asia, Southeast Asia and Pacific region, sponsored by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) and SEPA.


More than 70 customs and ODS officers from 39 countries attended the event, which aimed to improve regional cooperation for control and monitoring of ODS trade.


Zhu said that to deal with the illegal trade, the Ministry of Commerce and the General Administration of Customs has established an office and adopted measures including import and export quotas and a licensing system.


Meanwhile, marked progress has been made in the training of customs officers and capacity building for the management of ODS import and export, he said.


Zhu said he expected inspection equipment to be installed at customs with the help of international aid to facilitate detection of ODS.


China will also speed up the establishment of a national electronic information network to monitor the trade so that any smuggling activities could be discovered in time, he said.


Zhu believed the workshop would provide a good opportunity for countries to enhance cooperation in checking the illegal ODS trade.


Also speaking at the ceremony, Monique Barbut, director of UNEP's Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, said that the task of controlling illegal ODS trade was not simple because such trade was on the increase.


The UNEP has launched Green Customs Initiative's work plan for 2004 and 2005, which includes the organization of integrated customs training workshops in each region. For the Asia region, a workshop will be organized in Bhutan in the fall of this year.


"Several countries in the Asian region will be invited to attend the training, for which the final details still need to be finalized," said Barbut.


After the opening ceremony, a memorandum of understanding was signed by Liu Xiaohui, head of the Beijing-based Regional Intelligence Liaison Office of the World Customs Organization, and Surendra Shrestha, director of the UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.


It is aimed at further cooperation on information exchange, law enforcement and technical assistance.


The SEPA also said on Monday that environmental management of dangerous waste materials will begin on a trial basis in five cities: Chongqing, Shenyang, Wuhan, Xi'an and Harbin.


An official said Harbin, Shenyang and Shanghai had already taken measures, however, "with too many units producing waste and the understaffing of environmental protection organs, the problems of illegal transferring and random dumping cannot be completely solved."


(Xinhua News Agency April 26, 2005)

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