China proposes to ease import requirements

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Personal care, International trade, China

China has long-proved a difficult market for personal care players
to crack, but after the government recently announced that it was
relaxing personal care import regulations from countries with BSE,
things might start to get a little easier.

The China WTO TBT Enquiry Point notified the World Trade Organization that it would no longer require certification to ensure that imports are free of animal derivatives that could possibly be linked to BSE. The move is believed to have come after the WTO put pressure on the China authorities in an effort to ensure that the country complies with international trading regulations. It means that companies importing into China will no longer have to request Cosmetic Certification for BSE from the China Ministry of Health or declare such products for import inspection or quarantine. The China authorities said that the easing of the certification requirements would be introduced by August 1. The ruling includes EU countries, Canada and the US, and is said to have had a considerable impact on personal care providers exporting to China, many of whom have had to face tough certification measures. The US is one of the most recent countries to have been added to the list of those with export restrictions, after BSE was detected there in December 2003. In the US the CTFA said that the news was particularly good for US manufacturers, many of whom have seen the certification process as a hurdle, particularly in the face of rising demand for imported cosmetic and toiletry products in China. Indeed, according to the CTFA, exports from the US to China during January 2007 have increased 40 per cent in volume and 84 per cent in value compared to the same month last year - a rise that is in line with double-digit growth in the China economy that has been mirrored in the market for cosmetics and toiletries. However, although the certification process may have just been made a little easier for foreign companies trying to penetrate China, the dynamics of the market are forever changing, with a new study suggesting that current consumer patterns may make things still harder. The report, by Credit Suisse, said that, besides bureaucracy, price structuring and adapting to the local market, foreign companies are also facing the added challenge that, as consumers become more savvy, fewer and fewer are willing to pay a premium for foreign brands.

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