Chinese clampdown with food import law

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags International trade Export

Food and drink manufacturers exporting to China face tough new rules
Food and drink manufacturers exporting to China face tough new rules
Manufacturers eyeing burgeoning export opportunities in China must comply with a raft of new legislation in order to trade in the country – or face strict new penalties.

The 'Provisions on the Administration of the Registration of Overseas Manufacturers of Imported Food' aims to tighten up rules on the safety and quality of food entering the country.

Firms will still need export approval from China's Certification and Accreditation Administration. But they will have to apply via their local food regulatory authority, a move the Chinese authorities believe will add another layer of scrutiny and protection.

A panel will review application documents submitted by overseas food firms before granting an export registration number.

Have to re-apply

The new regulations stipulate that a registration number will only be valid for four years, after which manufacturers will have to re-apply.

"The provisions have given​ [China] greater powers to cancel registration numbers if food quality is not up to standard,"​ stated Jean-Marc Deschandol, from legal firm Eversheds.

China was identified as a key export target by environment secretary Owen Paterson in November when he led a trade delegation to Beijing.

Food and drink exports total £174M

UK food and drink exports to China​ totalled £174M in 2011, with dairy products becoming more popular with Chinese consumers.

Under the new rules, manufacturers that fail to comply will be fined up to 50% of the value of the products imported without a valid registration number and any illegal income will be confiscated.

A number of larger manufacturers are following the major retailers they supply, such as Tesco, as they expand into Asia. Speaking at Food Manufacture'​s Business Leaders' Forum in January, Philip Wilkinson, a director with 2 Sisters Food Group, said a growing number of British firms were exploring opportunities in the region. "We are growing ​[in Asia] we don't need to make acquisitions,"​ he said. "We are building facilities in Asia-Pacific as we speak."

He added: "I was in a meeting in Beijing only two weeks since; it was a cross-industry meeting including people from Müller and Arla Foods."

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