WOSA : China Update

Thursday, 17 October, 2013
As some producers may have experienced, certain Chinese importers have start to require suppliers to produce a certificate confirming the level of phthalates or plasticisers in alcoholic beverages. 
FIVS called on all members internationally to refrain from providing the certificate, because it would create a precedent that would eventually mean that providing the certificate will become the norm in China. Unfortunately, there were a few reports of South African consignments that were held up at certain ports in China. With the help of Ms Wendy Jonker from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) many of our shipments to China were allowed to enter the market without the certificate.

The Chinese authorities claimed that it was not necessarily a new import requirement, but that they were busy with an assessment by the health authorities to establish if the levels of phthalates in alcoholic beverages was a health risk for its citizens. Recently it seems that certain EU countries such as Spain and France have "broken ranks" and have started supplying the certificate. Representatives from the EU confirmed that there are some exporters in member countries that have started to relent and are providing the certificate on request. Feedback from countries such as Australia, New Zealand and USA is that they have heard a lot less "noise" regarding this issue over the last few months, but conceded that perhaps it's because exporters were supplying the certificate. Feedback from the EU wine industry representative body (CEEV) was that we will have to wait until the Chinese have concluded this assessment and see what they do with the results of the assessment. The CEEV have however been asking their members, where possible, to check the phthalates before shipment.

The net result of this requirement for South African exporters is that it will add to the cost of doing business in China. The only pragmatic advice that we can offer at this stage is that you should try to avoid the unnecessary costs wherever possible. DAFF is still willing to engage with authorities and or your agent, and this should always be your first option, but where it is unavoidable, do what you need to do to ensure that your product legally enters the market. The only thing we can categorically confirm is that there is no longer any international pressure for your company to refuse to provide the certificate.

The WOSA Team