Press conference on forestalling inbound transmissions, strengthening supervision over imported cold-chain food

The Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council held a press conference on July 10, 2020 in Beijing to brief the media on measures to forestall inbound COVID-19 transmissions and strengthen supervision over imported cold-chain food. July 14, 2020

Hong Kong Economic Herald:

We noted that after China's customs carried out a risk monitoring of imported cold chain products for COVID-19, some countries and international organizations have questioned whether these measures would restrict normal international trade. Such skepticism may run higher as customs departments suspend imports from three Ecuadorian companies, and confidence in the Chinese market may be weakened as well. Is such skepticism necessary? Thank you. 

Bi Kexin:

Thank you for your question. China's customs have conducted COVID-19 nucleic acid tests on imported cold chain products, which is an important measure to prevent the virus from being reintroduced into China via this channel. Such practice is in line with the relevant provisions of the World Trade Organization Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (WTO/SPS) and has a solid legal basis in domestic laws. These necessary measures taken to protect people's health will not impact normal international trade.

The aim of suspending imports from three Ecuadorian companies is to urge these enterprises to assume primary responsibility in earnest and to rectify problems found in producing and processing products in a timely manner. To ensure the food safety of the products they export to China, enterprises should act in line with COVID-19 and Food Safety: Guidance for Food Businesses, which is jointly issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO), improve food safety management systems, strengthen food safety and sanitation management, and ensure staff protection in the production, processing, and transportation of products. China will maintain close communication with Ecuador's competent government departments and relevant enterprises, find solutions to the problems as soon as possible to safeguard food safety, and enhance consumer confidence.

As General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out, China will not close its door to the world; we will only become more and more open. China is a huge market for food consumption. We welcome safe and high-quality food to be introduced into China from all over the world. Serving as import and export food safety regulators, China's customs are prepared to conduct extensive and in-depth cooperation with other countries to improve global governance of food safety, strengthen comprehensive oversight over food safety, and jointly promote the sound development of international food trade. Thank you.

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