Increasing number of seized refrigerant bottles of Chinese importers indicate the need for clarification on HCFC/HFC permit system

27th October 2021, The Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Climate Change and Communication (MEIDECC), in partnership with HM Customs, conducted a National Consultation Workshop on HCFC/HFC (Hydrochlorofluorocarbon/Hydrofluorocarbon) Permit System with the Chinese Refrigerant importers in the Kingdom.

Due to the cumulative occurrence of detaining bulk refrigerant imports by the border security as a result of false declaration, undeclared goods and most importantly, not obtaining import permit approval stimulated the purpose of conducting the workshop.

The workshop was distinguished by the presentation of the facilitators: Mr. Áloisio Fifita from the Department of Climate Change explained the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer and its requirements in terms of phasing out HCFC/HFC refrigerants to protect the ozone layer and climate change mitigation. Ms. Lucy Tokai, the legal advisor for MEIDECC enlightened the audience on the provisions of the Ozone Layer Protection Act, specifically on the permit system, offences and penalties. Ms. Tokai emphasized that prior to importing of any HCFC/HFC refrigerant; the importer must apply in written request to the Ministry of MEIDECC showing the quantity of import, country the import is exported from and also the intentions of the import.

Moreover, Mr. Fatafehi Fakatava a technical expert from the Tonga Refrigeration/Air Condition Engineering Association presented on the safety precaution measures for the handling and storage of the refrigerant bottles. This is to ensure safety at the work environment and to avoid gas leaking into the atmosphere. The workshop was concluded by senior official from Customs trade division, Mr. Sau Niulala; reiterating the obligations of the border control officers and procedures to minimize the detention of imports at the border.

The workshop was attended by representatives from different Chinese companies which import HCFC/HFC refrigerants for cooling purposes such as ice cream manufacturing and other bigger cooling storage systems. The funding assistance of UNEP distinctly contributed to the successful implementation of the national consultation workshop.

As a result of the workshop, the Department of Climate Change anticipates a closer collaboration with the importer stakeholders to sustain compliance with Montreal Protocol and Ozone Layer Protection Act.