USTR/USDA Holds Open Meeting to Discuss China Decrees 248 and 249

On Tuesday, November 16th, 2021, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) held an informal informational meeting on the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China’s (GACC) Decrees 248 and 249 affecting U.S. agricultural exports.

The Decrees, which were published in 2019, set out new requirements for all overseas food manufacturers, processors, and storage facilities to register their facilities and meet new labeling requirements with GACC. The Decrees are set to go into effect on January 1st, 2022.

The meeting outlined GACC’s guidance thus far, the U.S. interpretation of the Decrees, next steps for U.S. exporters, and concluded with a question and answer session for stakeholders.

Andrew Devine, Director of USTR Agricultural Affairs, reported that GACC’s engagement with USTR and USDA regarding Decrees 248 and 249 has been poor. He reported that Decrees 248 and 249 have been discussed in the Phase One agreement meetings with Chinese trade officials but have yielded few answers beyond those reported by the USDA’s Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN).

Devine reported that the U.S. has elected to inform China and its stakeholders of its interpretation of Decrees 248 and 249 and wait for comments from Chinese officials. Based on interpretations of Article 11 of Decree 248, officials expect U.S. exporters to self-register on the GACC online portal unless the food product has a preexisting facility and labeling registration procedure in China.

Going forward, USTR and USDA will be soliciting additional questions from stakeholders regarding the GACC, and providing more updates via GAIN.

U.S. officials and international trade partners have pushed for an 18-month delay to implementing Decree 248 and 249 to give sufficient time for clarification questions. GACC has thus far not postponed the implementation date.

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