The new year is set to bring a whole bunch of new hurdles for the region’s agricultural producers and exporters to China with a raft of new rules, regulations, and procedures being announced just ahead of the holiday season, in Mandarin only.
Alarmingly, for producers in Asean’s less developed countries, the new regulations require exporters to adhere to work procedures equal to that of companies registered in China.
Posted to the Department of Animals and Plants of the General Administration of Customs (GAC) of China website on November 29, the new regulations detail tougher standards for the import of foreign plant and animal food products, with goods needing to pass review by two ‘expert panels’.
The updated rules will apply to all companies dealing with the production, processing and storage of animal, plant and related products who wish to apply for their registration in China, food and beverage publication Food Navigator (FN) reports.
Exporters must meet Chinese labour standards
Under the updated process FN says that new applications will be subject to an initial document review before the application is accepted. If the documentation is in order the department will then take steps to form an ‘expert panel’ to review the application.
The review process will examine numerous aspects of the application and the goods, including safety and hygiene conditions, quality control system at the point of manufacture, as well as compliance aspects such as formal business registration and management systems in the applicants country-of-origin.
Other requirements include compliance with Chinese regulations and standards, and adherence to recommended work procedures equal to that of companies registered in China.
Items currently registered for import and distribution in China will continue to be allowed entry up until the expiration of their current licence, following which they will need to go through the new process. Existing exporters who want to vary their current approval will have to go through the new process.
For the regions grain producers the new requirement for demonstrable raw material traceability management, in addition to details on pest control measures used, may prove to be stumbling blocks.
It has been speculated that the tightened Chinese regulations may be related to China’s move in January this year to tighten regulations on grain circulation and strategic reserves, with the aim of raising national grain security.
Revised organic regulations start Jan 1
The new requirements coincide with the issuance of revised organic certification regulations due to also come into force on January 1.
In its sixth revision to its list of products that can be accepted for organic certification, the ‘Organic Product Certification Catalogue (OPCC)’ details 1,136 products across 46 categories; An 11 category increase on last year.
Similar to the GAC announcement, the new regulations were made by posting publicly on the China National Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) website, in Mandarin.
According to FN the announcement states: “From the date of publication of this notice, all organic certification bodies can only accept new applications for products that are found within the new ‘Organic Product Certification Catalogue. Applications for all products that are not found within this list can no longer be accepted’, it reportedly said.
The CNCA statement says companies who have received certification before the notice publication, given that their products are not in the list, can continue to use the existing certificate until the date of expiry, upon which this will be considered to have ‘automatically expired’ and will no longer be valid.
Coinciding with the updated OPCC is introduction of China’s updated ‘Organic Product Certification Implementation Rules (OPCIR)’.
FN reports that in a separate statement the CNCA said the OPCIR had been revised to further improve China’s organic product certification system, standardise organic product certification activities, and ensure the consistency and effectiveness of certification activities.
The statement urges all companies to amend their management and systems documentation according to the new rules, ‘as well as in accordance with the national standards for ‘organic products production, processing, labelling, and management system requirements’.
From January 1, 2020, FN cited the statement as saying, all certification bodies will process organic product certification applications according to the requirements of these new rules, regardless of whether the applicant is new or existing’.
FN also notes that the new regulations contain specific requirements for wolfberries (goji berries), including environmental requirements such as the altitude of the production unit, whether or not neighbouring farms use pesticides, prevailing wind speeds and direction, etc.
While China has proven to be a welcome purchaser of the region’s fresh produce in recent years, the enhanced certification process and standards show that only first-grade produce will be accepted, while compliance, traceability, and governance are becoming increasingly important for those wanting access to the Chinese market.
- All Overseas Food Manufacturers shall Register the Factory at GACC before Entering China Market? (CIRS)
- Breaking News: China Proposes New Facility Registration Requirements for Overseas Food Producers (Keller and Heckman)
- China announces new national standard for organic food products (IEG Policy)
After graduation she worked at the Philippine Broadcasting Service performing transcription and business news writing, before moving to Eagle Broadcasting Corporation where she worked as a news editor, translator and production assistant.