Representatives from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing met with the director general of China’s Inspection and Quarantine Ministry to gain more information about how shippers can comply with China’s requirement that shipments from the nation be mosquito-free.
BY CHRIS DUPIN |THURSDAY, AUGUST 18, 2016|American Shipper Magazine
U.S. officials have received more information about how U.S. shippers can comply with China’s requirement that shipments from the nation be mosquito-free.
The requirements, which have been in place for months for many other countries, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, were extended earlier this month to apply to shipments from the 50 U.S. states by China’s Inspection and Quarantine Ministry in an attempt to prevent the Zika virus from spreading to China.
Both the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopicus, and the so-called yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, are vectors for the virus and are found in many parts of the U.S. Fourteen cases of mosquito-borne transmission of Zika have been identified in Florida and over 7,800 cases in Puerto Rico, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A memorandum obtained by American Shipper from Mayra Caldera of the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that “following the World Health Organization’s (WHO) determination that the United States is a Zika-infected country, Chinese authorities now require mosquito disinsection for all U.S.-origin shipments to China.”
Disinsection is the process of making sure an aircraft or area is free of insects, and is a term not to be confused with disinfection.
In this case, Caldera said it means “killing live mosquitoes, their larva and eggs. Fumigation is one type of disinsection, but spraying appears to be the primary method of disinsection. While food and feed shipments appear to be exempted, the new requirement may still impose additional costs on U.S. agricultural exporters and potentially disrupt trade.”
Caldera said the FAS is “actively engaging with relevant Chinese ministries, U.S. government counterparts, and industry stakeholders to clarify the scope of the new requirements and minimize any potential trade disruptions.”
The memorandum highlighted these key points:
• USDA has confirmed the U.S. is on the WHO’s list of countries reporting mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission;
• Since March 2016, China’s Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) has required all countries on its Zika-infected list comply with disinsection requirements;
• On Aug. 5, China’s AQSIQ added the U.S. to its list of countries infected by the Zika virus and announced that U.S. exporters are required to ensure all inbound containers/cargo to China are subjected to anti-mosquito treatment at the place of origin in order to avoid delay at Chinese ports of entry;
• The U.S. is still confirming the exact nature of the requirements and the scope of products that fall under AQSIQ’s measure;
• The USDA understands chilled/refrigerated products – containers chilled to 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) or colder – are not subject to the disinsection requirements unless live mosquito eggs are detected during inspection;
• USDA also understand that bulk feed and food products are not subject to the disinsection requirements unless live mosquitos are detected during inspection;
• USDA is reviewing WHO guidance and other relevant international agreements to determine the appropriate response to China’s measure;
• And the FAS Beijing is leading an inter-agency effort with U.S. Embassy representatives to collect more information about the requirements.
“We are pleased to see progress being made to gain clarity and find reasonable solutions towards disinsection of our members’ U.S. agriculture and forest products exports to China,” the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC) said.
“Some solutions are apparent, and we continue to push for improvements, such as exemptions for cargo originating in areas of the United States where Zika is not present,” AgTC said, adding that it understands China will consider a regional approach for the U.S., but for now, everyone in the US must comply – including transshipments through another country if cargo originates in the U.S.
Summaries of the meeting were being circulated today, and AgTC said, “This new information addresses issues we’ve been raising with Chinese and U.S. authorities directly and indirectly.”
A source said they expect more extensive information to be available from the U.S. government in the coming days, but from what it has seen to date, AgTC said it believes notable takeaways are:
• Disinsection does not require fumigation and can be carried out by physical or chemical means. Physical means could include trapping, air curtains or other integrated pest management techniques; and chemical means could include surface spraying, space spraying or fumigation.
• No requirement for an official government stamp is needed on a certificate.
• Disinsection applies to the container/vessel and not the goods being shipped. If a vessel can provide certification that it is free of mosquitoes, then no additional inspection is required.
A document prepared by the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service said the regulation will apply to all shipments that departed from the U.S. on Aug. 5 or later.
The document also said if fumigation took place at the Chinese port of entry, the cost was estimated at $30 for a 20-foot container and $60 for a 40-foot container. However, it remains unclear how the many thousands of containers coming off ships could be accommodated, and also whether empty containers would have to be treated.
Even shipping lines seem to be unclear on how China is going accomplish its objective.
A letter from the U.S. subsidiary of the Japanese carrier MOL dated July 18 said it is “attempting to ascertain information regarding how and where the requirement will be enforced.”