Chinese exports will encounter increasing technical barriers among major
trading partners like the United States and the European Union in the coming
years because of strict new rules on energy use and chemical content in those
markets, a top official warned.
Although it is still too early to say what kind of impact such barriers would
have on exports, they could be serious, said Li Changjiang, minister of the
General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine
The growing number of foreign regulations has caused Chinese exporters to
suffer huge losses, and it is conceivable that such growth will continue in the
future, Li said.
Consumer goods generally have to conform to technical regulations and
standards that set out specific characteristics for a product, such as its size,
shape, design, function and performance. These rules can also cover labelling
Export products that fail to meet the standards in the markets they are
destined for will be denied entry to those markets.
Such regulations impose costs on manufacturers and exporters, which have to
adjust their production facilities to comply with the requirements and pay for
testing and certification to prove that their products meet the foreign
regulations. Even translations and explanations of the regulations can raise
A Xinhua report said about 90 per cent of Chinese agriculture and food import
and export enterprises are affected by foreign technical regulations, costing
the country approximately US$9 billion every year.
Official figures also show that the Restrictions on Hazardous Substances
(RoHS) directive, which the European Union adopted on July 1, affected more than
US$60 billion worth of electronic and electrical products exported from China.
China received 895 notifications of similar technical barriers from WTO
members last year, up 50 per cent from 2002. The number of notifications
involving sanitary and phytosanitary measures reached 853, up 30 per cent over
Phytosanitary refers to the health of plants and covers such issues as plant
diseases and pests.
The majority of these notifications came from China's major trade partners,
such as the United States, the European Union, Japan, New Zealand, Brazil,
Canada and Israel.
GAQSIQ has taken steps to address trade issues involving automobile exhaust,
food components, chemical residues and animal diseases. These areas will
continue to be key issues for exporters in coming years.
Li said most technical standards are adopted and applied in an effort to
protect human safety or health, animal and plant health, and the environment.
However, there is a risk that some countries could use technical regulations
and standards to protect favoured domestic industries.
Li said China would actively take on inappropriate regulations through the
World Trade Organization's dispute-resolution mechanisms.
This effort has already born some fruit. Japan last
month lowered its standards for chemical residues in 18 categories of food
products, and at almost the same time the European Union lowered standards for
pesticide residues on Chinese tea from 0.01 mg per kilogram to 30 mg per
kilogram. With a better understanding of WTO rules, we will be more active in
international trade affairs, Li said.