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China's food import law worries foreign businesses
China’s new laws now require all food importations to register with the customs authority, creating another barrier for international firms who have long complained of unfair treatment.
Chinese consumers purchased $108 billion worth of imported produce in 2020, with that number expected to grow for 2021 as imports surged nearly 30 percent on year in the first three quarters.
The extra hurdle, previously required only for products posing potential health risks, such as seafood, will now be applied to coffee, alcohol, honey, olive oil, chocolate, and several other products.
Alban Renaud, a China-based lawyer with the firm Adaltys, said there were still many unknowns, such as the margin of tolerance and the applications that are not yet approved.
Importers complained about the late publication of application details and that the website for registering only went online last month. They added that there are hurdles in registering, such as information not being available in English.
Some companies were even given the wrong country code, such as a Portuguese importer being registered as Spanish, according to a Beijing-based diplomat.
Food companies and importers have to deal with control measures under China's strict zero-COVID strategy, with products now subject to extra screening and repeated disinfection.