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EU Updates Rules on Wood Packaging Materials for Specified Chinese Commodities

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 EU. The period of application of Decision 2013/92/EU was extended until 31 July 2018 by Commission Implementing Decision 2017/728. The new Decision 2018/1137 repeals and replaces Decision 2013/92/EU, while significantly extending the scope of the measures.

By way of context, Hong Kong traders may recall that Decision 2013/92/EU was adopted in the wake of an outbreak of invasive species, including the Asian long-horned beetle (Anaplophora glabripennis), in Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Investigations revealed the presence of A. glabripennis in wood packaging used in the transport of certain commodities originating in mainland China and other trading partners. Invasive beetle species can spread rapidly through larvae living in wood packaging material, and can cause widespread destruction of indigenous forests and urban trees when unwittingly transported beyond their normal geographic range.

In response to this phytosanitary and environmental risk, the EU introduced customs inspections for the wood packaging (such as packing cases, boxes, crates, drums, pallets, box pallets, load boards, pallet collars and dunnage) used to transport certain commodities. The new Decision 2018/1137 determines that the wood packaging material used in the transport of certain commodities continues to pose a phytosanitary risk to the EU. In substance, Decision 2018/1137 refines the existing inspection procedure, includes commodities originating in Belarus as well as mainland China, and significantly extends the scope of the measures to include a much wider list of commodities.

Over fifty categories of commodities are targeted by Decision 2018/1137. They include cut, worked, monumental and building stone; carpentry, packaging and other wooden articles; cement, concrete and artificial stone; refractory and non-refractory ceramic goods; tiles, pipes and fittings; household and toilet articles made of stoneware; tableware and kitchenware made of stoneware; metal products including wire, nails, screws, washers etc; anvils and machinery; paper, cellulose and agglomerated cork products; engines; sprayers and other mechanical appliances; certain forms of semi-manufactured gold and platinum; hand-held angle grinders; electrical wire and cable; and vehicle parts such as brakes, gear boxes, radiators, silencers, exhaust pipes. A full list including Combined Nomenclature and TARIC codes is available at Annex II of Decision 2018/1137.

Checks will be conducted by national authorities. Pursuant to Article 4 of Decision 2018/1137, EU Member States will individually define the rate of the wood packaging material subject to plant health checks, such rate being no lower than 1% of the consignments of the specified commodities. Decision 2018/1137 also introduces an advance notice system, whereby port authorities and professional operators must give advance notice of the importation of wood packaging material. Such notice must be given to the customs office or other responsible official body at the point of entry as soon as the operator becomes aware of the imminent arrival of the material.

Hong Kong traders with exporting interests in mainland China should take into account that, pursuant to Article 5 of Decision 2018/1137, in cases where wood packaging is not made subject to respective approved chemical or heat treatments under International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (produced by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation), or does not display a mark of such treatment, it might lead to the removal of the potentially infected product from the consignment, quarantine, a refusal of permission to send products outside the EU, or even the destruction of the shipment.

Decision 2018/1137 enters into force on 1 October 2018, with Decision 2013/92/EU being valid until that date. A sunset clause provides that Decision 2018/1137 will expire on 30 June 2020, subject to the possibility of further extensions.

Please click on the following to read a full list of the 52 commodities referred to in Decision 2018/1137.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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