STC Number - 485

China's administrative measures for registration of overseas manufacturers of imported food (26 November 2019)

Maintained by: China
Raised by: United States of America
Supported by: European Union; Japan; Switzerland; Thailand
First date raised: June 2020 G/SPS/R/99 paras. 3.138-3.148
Dates subsequently raised:
Number of times subsequently raised: 0
Relevant documents: G/SPS/GEN/1803
Products covered:
Primary subject keyword: Other concerns
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In June 2020, the United States submitted document G/SPS/GEN/1803.

Japan, the European Union, Switzerland and Thailand supported this concern.

Japan provided the provided the following statement: Japan shares the concerns raised by the United States, regarding China's draft administrative measures for registration of overseas producers of imported food. China's proposed measures would create unnecessary barriers to trade and have negative impacts on food trade between China and other WTO Members. As far as Japan understands, the proposed measures would require foreign competent authorities to inspect and supervise manufacturing companies in accordance with Chinese laws and regulations, and to confirm their compliance with Chinese laws and regulations, covering all food products imported into China. Japan is concerned that the proposed system would expand the range of the products subject to the measures without scientific risk assessment, although the current system covers only food products of animal origin such as meat and seafood. In addition, there would be considerable negative impacts on foreign products due to increase in relevant cost, labour and time, possibly with arbitrary operations under insufficient transparency. Therefore, Japan requests China to suspend the proposed measures. SPS measures should be taken to the extent necessary and sufficient according to the risks of each product, and the coverage of the measures should not be expanded indefinitely without a prerequisite scientific risk assessment. Japan would like to request China to make timely WTO notifications, provide relevant information along with the details of the system on this matter as appropriate, and address the concerns of WTO Members.

The European Union provided the following statement: The European Union is also very concerned about this measure as this will have a serious impact on imports into China. Our concern is that the measure will have a serious impact on transaction cost of our trade, but it will have very little impact, if any, on its safety. In other words, this measure appears highly disproportionate for low-risk products that are currently traded under a self-registration regime. The European Union kindly requests China to explain the objective of this proposal and stands willing to discuss any legitimate concerns in order to find consensus solutions. The first step towards such a dialogue would be an official notification by China through WTO channels in order to frame our discussions.

Switzerland provided the following statement: Switzerland shares the concerns raised by the United States regarding China's draft Administrative Measure for registration of overseas producers of imported food. Switzerland understands and supports China's objective to ensure that only safe food is imported. However, the draft Administrative Measure appears to expand the registration of overseas manufacturers to include all food categories, irrespective of their risk-profile. The measure therefore seems more trade restrictive than necessary. Switzerland is also concerned about the possible implications for foreign competent authorities, who are obliged to confirm that manufacturers are in continuous compliance with Chinese regulations. Furthermore, implementing the Administrative Measure may cause disruption in trade and delays in the evaluation procedure, thereby negatively affecting the access of businesses to the Chinese market and the availability of imported products in China. China issued the draft Administrative Measure for domestic consultations in November 2019, to which Switzerland already provided its comments and questions. Switzerland would like to request China to notify the draft Administrative Measure to the WTO, and on to seek mutually acceptable solutions with Members on that basis.

Thailand provided the following statement: Thailand shares the concerns raised by the United States regarding China's draft Administrative Measure for registration of overseas producers of imported food. We would like to express our concerns on this measure as follows: First, the scope of the products covered by this measure has not been clearly identified. We are concerned that this measure would be applied to all food products including low-risk food products, which would create unnecessary barriers to trade. Therefore, we would like to request China to provide the list of commodities covered under this measure and to implement this measure as necessary only for high risk food products. Second, since this measure may have a significant effect on international trade. In order to comply with WTO transparency obligations, we request China to notify this draft measure to WTO Members and provide the 60-day comment period. Lastly, to comply with this draft measure, our exporters and authorities need a reasonable period of time to adapt to such draft measure. We therefore would like to seek clarification on the expected date of entry into force and the transitional period provided for trading partners. We hope that China will take our concerns into account.

China provided the following response: The application of a registration system of overseas producers of imported foods is a requirement in China's Food Safety Law. In recent years, China's food imports and number of registered overseas food production enterprises have grown rapidly. The current administration measure for registration of producers does not meet the requirements of a new situation anymore. The objective of revising the Administrative Measures for Registration of Overseas Producers of Imported Foods is to implement the Food Safety Law and improve the existing registration system, which will optimize the registration procedure and clarify the responsibilities of all the relevant stakeholders based on risk management. Currently, this administrative measure is still in the process of drafting. Once the draft is ready, China will notify it to the WTO and welcomes Members to share their reasonable comments or suggestions with us at that time.