19 May 2017
EU Extends Application of Rules on Wood Packaging Materials for Specified Chinese Commodities Until 31 July 2018
On 25 April 2017, the Official Journal of the European Union published Commission Implementing Decision 2017/728, which extends the application of Decision 2013/92/EU on the supervision, plant health checks and measures to be taken on wood packaging material in use in the transport of specified commodities originating in mainland China (“Decision 2013/92/EU”).
As Hong Kong traders with exporting interests in mainland China may recall, Decision 2013/92/EU had subjected wood packaging materials for certain commodities to supervision by Member States’ customs authorities as of 1 April 2013. This Decision was legally based on Council Directive 2000/29/EC on protective measures against the introduction of organisms harmful to plants or plant products in the Union adopted in May 2000.
As background, it may be recalled that Decision 2013/92/EU had been adopted following the discovery of the presence of harmful organisms, in particular Anoplophora glabripennis (Motschulsky), in wood packaging used in the transport of certain commodities originating in mainland China. This incident had caused outbreaks of the organisms in Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria and the United Kingdom.
More specifically, Decision 2013/92/EU had introduced customs inspections for the wood packaging of several commodities; such wood packaging includes packing cases, boxes, crates, drums, pallets, box pallets, load boards, pallet collars and dunnage, in order to detect the presence of harmful organisms. It had also been required that goods subject to supervision be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate from within 14 days of shipment from the consignor country.
On 20 March 2015, the application of Decision 2013/92/EU had been extended until March 2017, and the list of commodities the packaging material of which must be subject to a plant health check was expanded in number. Additionally, the amendment had introduced a revision in the required frequency of plant health checks for some specific commodities, by lowering it to 15% from 90%, which was the initial provision under Decision 2013/92/EU.
Against this background, new Decision 2017/728 now determines that the wood packaging material used in the transport of certain commodities originating in mainland China still continues to present a phytosanitary risk to the EU. Therefore, it postpones the end of the application of Decision 2013/92/EU for a second time, until 31 July 2018.
Hong Kong traders with exporting interests in mainland China should take into account that, pursuant to Article 4 of Decision 2013/92/EU, in cases where wood packaging material is not made subject to respective approved treatments under International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (produced by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN), or does not display a mark of such treatment, it might lead to the removal of the potentially infected product from the consignment, its quarantine, a refusal of permission to send products outside the EU, or even the destruction of the shipment.
As a matter of convenience, below is the list of specified commodities the packaging material of which is subject to plant health checks under Decision 2013/92/EU:
1. Slate, whether or not roughly trimmed or merely cut, by sawing or otherwise, into blocks or slabs of a rectangular (including square) shape;
2. Marble, travertine, ecaussine and other calcareous monumental or building stone of an apparent specific gravity of 2.5 or more, and alabaster, whether or not roughly trimmed or merely cut, by sawing or otherwise, into blocks or slabs of a rectangular (including square) shape;
3. Granite, porphyry, basalt, sandstone and other monumental or building stone, whether or not roughly trimmed or merely cut, by sawing or otherwise, into blocks or slabs of a rectangular (including square) shape;
4. Setts, curbstones and flagstones, of natural stone (except slate);
5. Worked monumental or building stone (except slate) and articles thereof, other than goods of heading 6801; mosaic cubes and the like, of natural stone (including slate), whether or not on a backing; artificially coloured granules, chippings and powder, of natural stone (including slate);
6. Worked slate and articles of slate or of agglomerated slate;
7. Glazed ceramic flags and paving, hearth or wall tiles; glazed ceramic mosaic cubes and the like, whether or not on a backing;
8. Flat-rolled products of iron or non-alloy steel, of a width of 600 mm or more, clad, plated or coated.