Non-tariff barriers that make difficult entering into the Chinese market

Non-tariff barriers that make difficult entering into the Chinese market


From our branch IC&Partners Asia

Chinese people can boast significant experience in the construction of barriers, not only because they built, from the third century BC, the Great Wall, but also because the main pastime in China (Mahjong) consists in building a barrier using the tiles of the game.


Also foreign entrepreneurs who try to enter into the Chinese market with their products often have to face barriers, in particular non-tariff obstacles consisting in exhausting bureaucratic procedures that causes long delays and significant costs.


Food industry is surely one of the most affected by these trade barriers because there are many Chinese sanitary rules that impose strict administrative requirements and require to submit a lot of documents and detailed health certificates.


In particular, in 2013 China’s Ministry of Health released the “Chinese National Food Safety Standard for Nutrition Labeling of Prepackaged Food” that required labels in Chinese language with detailed information related to nutritional components for all food products destined to consumers.


Besides, companies that wants to export food products and wine in China are required to record data about the company and the products exported using the online registry established by the “General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine” (AQSIQ).


Severe restrictions exist for meat: meat from cattle and sheep can not be  imported in China, as well as products made from pork, with the exception of cured ham 313 days and cooked products (limited to the Italian plants officially approved by the Chinese authorities).


The import of wine requires the presentation of  detailed test reports and certificate of conformity with the regulations of China (in particular, about additives allowed); from 2013, it is also required to provide a certificate of analysis carried out by a qualified laboratory in order to check that levels of phthalates do not exceed the permitted limits.


A significant limitation to the opportunities that the Chinese market would offer is represented by the ban to import from Italy fruits and vegetables (kiwi is the only fresh fruit that can be imported into China).


Very complicated is to import infant formula in China: in fact, a recent regulation requires labels, in Chinese language, that respect the local laws; furthermore, it’s allowed to import in China only infant formula that will expire after three months from the date of inspection Customs.


Considerable difficulties are encountered in the cosmetics industry because Chinese regulations require detailed certification for the components of the cosmetic products and a long procedure for the compulsory registration by SFDA (“State Food and Drug Administration”) with a lot of costs for the foreign company.


In clothing and footwear industry, European companies exporting to China have to provide labels in Chinese language much more detailed than required by Community legislation.


In mechanical and electronic industry, the most important barriers are the obligations to mark industrial products with CCC (China Compulsory Certification) and the differences between the Chinese and European technical standards in defining standards for the electronic spare parts.


CCC certification is also required for ceramic tiles, in particular to check the level of radioactivity (to get this certificate, it’s necessary an inspection at the factory by technicians authorized by the Chinese Authority).


In general, the rigidity of these procedures, not only have the declared aim to ensure that products entering in the market are controlled and safe, but also the aim to protect Chinese companies with a protectionist policy.