AP Radio AP Radio News:

Mar 20, 2:09 AM EDT

China's trading partners alarmed by food import controls


AP Photo
AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

Multimedia
Video photo gallery on trash in China
China celebrates 60th year
Panorama of Tiananmen Square
Remembering Tiananmen
A year after China quake
Migrant laborers struggle to find work
Checking Beijing's Air
China's morning exercises in parks
Exploring Chinese Cuisine
Beijing Architecture Changes For Games
Woman Rescues Homeless Quake Dogs
China Holds Funeral for Panda
China's 1-child Policy Causes Extra Pain
Map of Earthquake Zone in Central China
Entrepreneurs Move Into, Out of China
Olypmics in Beijing Highlight China's Water Woes
Foreign Buyers Head to China Despite Problems
Coal Use Produces Pollution, Illness
Coal Means Profit, Woes for China
China Extending Its Reach Around the World
In China, the Desert Closes In
Latest News
US-born panda Bao Bao makes first public appearance in China

Spokesman confirms China suspended imports of Brazil beef

China says no monitoring station on disputed island

Chinese premier visits Australia to expand bilateral ties

1 student dead, 20 injured in stampede at Chinese school

Multimedia
Memphis in May Barbecue Competition
Audio Slideshow
Panorama of Tiananmen Square
Remembering Tiananmen
Multimedia
Summer grilling recipes
Cream-filled chocolate eggs
Buffalo Wings
Potato Chip and Pretzel Baked Chicken
Crispy Baked Cod
Bacon Barley Risotto
Kid-Friendly Focaccia
Indian Pudding
Dinner Biscuits
Popovers
Jerky Chili
Brown Butter Pasta
Freezer Jams
Summer snacks
Crafting the perfect deviled egg
How to make quick puff pastry
Fresh flatbread is quick, easy

BEIJING (AP) -- China's trading partners are bringing the top U.N. food standards official to Beijing in a last-ditch attempt to persuade regulators to scale back plans to require intensive inspections of food imports - including such low-risk items as wine and chocolate - that Washington and Europe say could disrupt billions of dollars in commerce.

The rule could inflame tensions with the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has promised to raise tariffs on imports from China, and the European Union.

Under the rule, due to take effect as early as October, each consignment of food would require a certificate from a foreign inspector confirming it meets Chinese quality standards. Other countries require such inspections only for meat, dairy and other perishable items.

That alarms suppliers that see China as a growing market for American fruit juice and snack foods, French wine, German chocolate, Italian pasta and Australian orange juice. They complain Beijing already uses safety rules in ways that hamper access for beef and other goods in violation of its market-opening commitments.

"It could bring down food imports quite dramatically," said the German ambassador to Beijing, Michael Clauss. "It often seems it is more about protecting Chinese producers than about food safety."

The requirement would add "unnecessary regulatory complexity" at a time when Beijing has promised to reduce regulation, Jake Parker, vice president of China operations for the U.S.-China Business Council, said in an email.

Chinese regulators say closer scrutiny is needed as food imports increase. They say they are willing to consider suggestions about alternatives, but foreign officials say they have yet to make any changes.

China contends the inspections requirement is supported by the Codex Alimentarius, the "Food Code" of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization, according to a person familiar with the discussions. The Codex sets quality standards but other nations say it recommends certificates only for risky products.

The president of the Codex council, Awilo Ochieng Pernet, a Swiss lawyer, will attend an April 6 seminar with Chinese officials in Beijing to explain its standards, according to that person, who asked not to be identified further. Participants plan to propose alternatives such as giving Beijing access to electronic records to track sources of shipments.

Ambassadors from the United States and another government expressed concern in a letter in January to Wang Yang, a deputy premier who oversees farming and commerce.

Officials of the United States, the EU, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Chile and other governments sent a similar letter to the Chinese product quality agency, the General Administration for Quality Inspection, Supervision and Quarantine, known as AQSIQ.

EU officials believe requiring health certificates for all products "is not scientifically justified," the EU mission in Beijing said in a statement.

The rules would be a burden on foreign suppliers and "a waste of the precious control resources" that should focus on risky products, it said.

The rules follow an avalanche of scandals over Chinese suppliers caught selling tainted milk and other shoddy or counterfeit food products.

Western officials say the proposed food rules appear meant to shift responsibility away from AQSIQ, which Chinese consumers often blame for safety failures .

In a written statement, AQSIQ told The Associated Press it is talking with more than 30 exporting countries and regions including the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The agency said it welcomes suggestions of "alternative solutions."

The measures are aimed at "promoting the international co-governance of food safety," the agency said. It said that would improve regulators' ability to trace imported food and block counterfeits.

"We have to assess the food management of areas abroad that export food to China to ensure the food safety of our country," the minister in charge of AQSIQ, Zhi Shuping, said at a March 14 news conference.

Zhi did not refer directly to the inspection requirement but said his agency's activities are "in line with international practice."

Beijing already is at odds with the U.S. and Europe over low-priced exports of steel and aluminum they say are hurting foreign competitors.

In the Trump administration's first trade complaint, a group for American aluminum producers asked March 9 for higher import duties on Chinese-made aluminum foil to counter what it said were improper subsidies.

Clauss, the German ambassador, said the rules should be submitted for WTO review - a step that AQSIQ said in its written statement it will take.

"We don't see that they really are trying to compromise on this so far," said Clauss. "To our knowledge, this doesn't exist anywhere else in the world."

---

General Administration for Quality Inspection, Supervision and Quarantine: www.aqsiq.gov.cn

Codex Alimentarius: www.fao.org/fao-who-codexalimentarius

© 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.



Latest News