China’s supplements customs registration: ‘Clearer info’ on international authorities facilitating registration

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

All manufacturers of foods exported into  to be registered with the customs.
All manufacturers of foods exported into to be registered with the customs.

Related tags: China, Exports, regulations

There are new updates to China’s customs registration, which will affect all food and supplements exports, with clearer information on the corresponding overseas authorities that are in charge of helping companies with their registration process.

For example, in the case of Australia, manufacturers producing therapeutic products, such as sports nutrition, functional foods, and dietary supplements, can seek endorsement from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to support their continued exports to China.

In April, China’s General Administration of Customs PRC (GACC) issued new regulations which require all manufacturers of foods exported into the country to be registered with the customs. 

Otherwise, the exports will not be accepted into the country. The new regulation will come into force from January 1 next year.

The new regulations will affect all food products, including dietary supplements, infant formula, toddler complementary food, and special medical use formulas sold via general trade in China.

As part of the registration process, overseas manufacturers of functional foods and Food for Special Dietary Purpose will need to show proof of recommendation/endorsement from their country’s competent authority.

Businesses of all the other food categories could self-register through a GACC online system from today. 

A few months ago, it was reported that there was a lack of information​ on the overseas authorities that are in charge of making the endorsement.

NutraIngredients-Asia ​understands that relevant information on the authorities involved has been released.

In the case of Australia, industry body Complementary Medicines Australia (CMA) has informed its members that the TGA will be in charge of endorsing local manufacturers of therapeutic goods.

“In Australia, the Department of Agriculture Water and the Environment (DAWE) will first require assessment and approval for manufacturers of foods.

“While the requirements relate predominantly to foods, some of the product categories may be regulated as therapeutic goods (listed medicines) in Australia, including, for example: bee products; edible oils; foods for special dietary purposes (supplemental nutritional supplements, sports nutrition food); and functional foods (claiming specific health functions).

“As such, the TGA – as the competent authority – will need to provide an endorsement to the GACC in relation to these goods to facilitate their continued export,” ​the CMA said in a letter to its members. 

At the moment, the new customs registration does not seem to be applicable to products sold into China via cross-border e-commerce (CBEC).

However, the CMA has recommended the manufacturers of CBEC products to work with importers or agents to check if their products would be affected.

Australia is the number one exporter of dietary supplements to China​, according to CMA’s Industry Audit 2021 report.

The US is also one of China’s largest supplement exporters and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be the body in charge of endorsing the registrations, according to Charles Diao, regulatory manager at China Health Products Association.

Other authorities in charge of endorsing the registrations include Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) ​and Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF).

Pre-registration

On the other hand, some of these authorities are also taking advantage of the pre-registration process that the GACC has offered. The process is said to be simpler and easier.

The pre-registration process, which has ended yesterday (October 31), is however, only opened to companies which have been exporting to their products to China since January 1, 2017.

In the case of Australia, the TGA has requested all manufacturers to submit the documents for its endorsement by last Tuesday (October 26).

“The CMA and the TGA have been working around the clock to make sure we encourage sponsors register their export retail products to China ahead of the deadline. 

“As you will know, products sold by CBEC are exempted and do not need to be registered, and that’s about 85 per cent of the exports to China.

“We have been really encouraged by the registration rate so far and encouraging companies to take advantage of the endorsement registration period now,” ​Carl Gibson, CEO of CMA told us.

A spokesman from the TGA told us that by the close of business on October 26, a total of 76 sponsors have provided their details for inclusion on TGA's pre-registration list. 

Change of sales strategy?

Some companies are planning to take advantage of the new customs registration to expand their current sales strategy in China.

“As it is not difficult to do the GACC registration, there is no need [for food businesses doing general trade] to change to do CBEC.

“In contrast, some of our clients who are doing CBEC said that they plan to register with the GACC, because they plan to conduct general trade in China in the future,”​ Cathy Yu, GM of the food business division at Hangzhou-based consultancy firm CIRS said.  

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