China has lifted its ban on U.S. pet food derived from ruminant ingredients and has also allowed import of pet food with poultry or bovine components, but challenges remain in complex economic landscape.
The announcement from Chinese Customs removed the barrier for U.S. pet food imports to China that has lasted for years on the condition that U.S.-made pet food complies with the relevant Chinese laws and regulations. U.S. pet food manufacturers should also guarantee that the ruminant ingredients in their products have been legally imported into the United States, meet U.S. domestic requirements for inclusion in pet food and are traceable to the country of origin.
First phase of trade agreement signed in January 2020
This development is covered by the first phase of the economic and trade agreement signed by the United States and China in January 2020. It streamlines American manufacturers’ access to China’s booming pet food market while providing Chinese consumers with a wider variety of high-quality American pet food products to choose from in the future.
In addition, China has agreed to not require any routine audits or inspections of U.S. pet food and non-ruminant derived animal feed facilities. However, China stipulated that it may perform audits and inspections under a risk-based selection of shipments of U.S. pet food and non-ruminant derived animal feed at the port of entry. The tests will be coordinated with a relevant U.S. authority to resolve any issues. The requirements for selective inspection and quarantine of pet food exported to China from the United States will be formulated and separately announced by Chinese customs.
Update expected in April 2020, may face challenges
In April 2020, the two countries are expected to sign an updated pet food protocol before the new agreement can be fully implemented. However, pet food with poultry ingredients is already clear for import.
But there’s a new challenge: delays in shipments from and to China due to coronavirus (COVID-19)-related issues. Ocean carriers bringing goods in and out of China are experiencing delays and sluggish output as the virus outbreak wreaks havoc on industrial production and logistics which may affect pet food shipments.