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Trade Barriers Reduce Farm Exports to Japan
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China's product quality watchdog yesterday blamed Japan for losses brought upon Chinese farmers by Japan's increased import standards enforced since May 29.


Due to the stricter trade barriers, China's farm produce export has decreased by 18 percent in June compared with same period last year, said Ge Zhirong, vice minister of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).


He said the export volume to Japan in farm products reached US$596 million in June. "And for the first half this year, the volume kept relatively the same over last year," Ge told the press conference yesterday in Beijing.


In May, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare enforced standards regulated in its new law on foodstuff. The law features newly developed food-testing measures called the "positive list" system, which includes a series of test standards on pesticides and other chemicals in foodstuff.


The new law stipulated about 97,000 limitation standards on 135 kinds of foodstuff and 724 kinds of pesticides. But before May, there were 9,000 limitation standards on 130 kinds of imported farm products and 229 kinds of pesticides, meaning the old standards equaled only 10 percent of the new.


While urging China's export-oriented firms to face the challenges the new standards bring, Ge said the Chinese government will continuously negotiate with Japan to seek adjustment.


Ge also said at yesterday's press conference that China has taken effective measures in the first half of 2006 to prevent animal and plant diseases as well as poisonous and harmful substances from entering the country.


During the period, Chinese authorities intercepted 1,905 varieties of pests in plants and plant products on 44,781 occasions, as well as 14 varieties of poisonous and harmful substances on 120 occasions, Ge said.


He said customs inspectors have inspected 110,200 batches, or 15.99 million tons, of imported scrap material worth US$4.59 billion. Among these, 298 batches of scrap material were unqualified because they did not meet China's environmental standards.


According to statistics released by the AQSIQ, 126 million people coming into or leaving the country have accepted health quarantines from January to June.


Among those found to have health problems, 1,393 were suffering sexual diseases, 329 had tuberculosis, 3,594 had hepatitis, 290 had HIV and 77 had other diseases.


Ge also revealed the results of a recent national survey finding that 78 percent of China's various products have met national standards during first half this year.


"The result shows that a gap still exists between China and developed countries in terms of product quality," said Ge, adding that China has taken great measures to improve product quality.


(China Daily July 28, 2006)


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