US, Japan join forces to push for postponement of food import rules into China

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This content was published on November 9, 2021 – 01:32

(Bloomberg) – Several countries including Japan, UK and US urge Chinese customs authorities to halt rollout of food import regulations, arguing the measures may further disrupt chains global supply.

Diplomats from seven economies, including Australia, Canada, the European Union and Switzerland, expressed their concerns in an Oct. 27 letter to Customs Minister Ni Yuefeng, according to a copy seen by Bloomberg News. They opposed a pair of executive orders issued in April that require food importers to comply with new registration, inspection and labeling requirements by January 1.

“Despite an important sensitization of our respective governments to the General Administration of Customs of China, there remains a significant lack of clarity regarding the implementation by the GACC of these decrees, including the products subject to these provisions and the specific actions. requested from foreign authorities, “diplomats said. wrote. “Products destined for import into China will soon be shipped, so Decrees 248 and 249 may disrupt global food supply chains and delay food supply to China.”

Diplomats called on the agency to delay food import measures for “at least 18 months.”

Neither the General Customs Administration nor the Foreign Ministry responded to requests for comment on Monday.

The letter signals growing frustrations among China’s foreign suppliers, as ships carrying food to the world’s second-largest economy prepare to leave port without knowing if they will be able to unload their cargo. The dispute comes at a time when the world is already experiencing massive shipping bottlenecks due to the Covid-19 pandemic and related fluctuations in the global economy.

While President Xi Jinping’s government this month expressed its own concern over the food supply during the winter, there is no indication so far that it intends to suspend or relax the food supplies. import measures. The government has already been forced in recent days to intervene to secure the power supply to factories after regulatory revisions contributed to widespread power shortages.

Vegetable Oil, Flour

The April decrees cover a wide range of products such as royal jelly, vegetable oil, infant food and wheat flour. Producers of goods in 18 specific categories would need recommendations from authorities in their home countries, while others are required to self-register through an online platform launched this month. Once registered, companies will be given special codes that must be physically attached to packaging, a person familiar with the matter said.

Foreign food manufacturers and governments are still unsure of how to meet the requirements, such as who qualifies as a recommending authority, the person said. There are also concerns that non-compliance with registration rules could lead to costly last-minute logistics delays, as companies rush to label products already on their way or in bonded warehouses awaiting entry.

Diplomats called on the GACC to communicate with foreign governments and food manufacturers during the postponement period. “We are also looking for a commitment that trade will continue uninterrupted in the meantime,” they said.

The letter was signed just days before Xi addressed the opening of the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, where he reaffirmed Beijing’s commitment to open its markets. “In the future, China will put more emphasis on expanding imports and pursue balanced development of trade,” Xi said.

Diplomats also said they reiterated the group’s concerns that many of the requirements of the decrees “appear to be disproportionate” to the level of risk presented by the affected products.

“We strongly encourage the PRC to continue its discussions and consultations with its trading partners prior to the implementation of the decrees, through the World Trade Organization and bilaterally,” the diplomats wrote, referring to the official name. from China. “In addition, we encourage the PRC to also consider collaborating with trading partners on policies and approaches related to these decrees and to consider less restrictive approaches to achieve the food security objectives of the GACC. ”

© 2021 Bloomberg LP


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