City says no to COVID-contaminated products . . .
The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Commerce, the local government body responsible for overseeing the city’s commercial affairs, issued a statement today encouraging importers in the city to shun frozen food from countries experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks. The call followed customs authorities and local government officials repeatedly detecting COVID-19 on imported cold chain food, which, according to the bureau, presents a COVID infection risk. The bureau urged importers to closely follow overseas COVID-19 outbreaks and to proactively avoid importing food from those areas. It also called on companies to improve their detection and reporting methods and to quickly inform authorities if products test positive.
The COVID-19 trade barrier . . .
This is not the first time the municipal government in Beijing has effectively banned contaminated imports. Earlier this summer it halted the sale of salmon from Europe after COVID-19 was found on chopping boards after they were used to cut imported salmon in Beijing’s largest market. While the government did not issue a formal ban, salmon imports were paused, and grocery store shelves cleared of the product. The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have both stated that the possibility of catching the virus through food is low, especially after it has gone through the export process, and that there is currently no evidence pointing at food-based transmission as a driver of the pandemic. Nonetheless, according to Chinese state media, as of September 7, China has suspended imports from dozens of food companies from across 19 countries.
Canada feels the chill . . .
Although Canada has a relatively low COVID-19 caseload, it has also faced import bans on its food products to China. After a Cargill’s processing facility in High River, Alberta experienced an outbreak of COVID-19, its goods were temporarily suspended from entering China. For Canadian food exporters to China, the question of how to navigate and develop an approach to resolving COVID-related import bans is an important one.