What Problems to Expect When Exporting to China (And How to Avoid Them)

3-minute read

“It is highly recommended that all companies do their due diligence before committing to the overseas market”. This was the main message from Mr Paul Smith, NZ Customs Counsellor.

Paul went on to explain, using China as an example, why working with trusted trading partners, logistical providers and brokers is a fundamental need.

New Zealand Government agencies continue to work with government agencies in China to streamline documentary requirements and to address the data and document integrity concerns.

Data integrity is the key to successful interaction at the Chinese border. Paul reiterated that the NZ/China Free Trade Agreement Certificate of Origin (FTA CoO) must only be used for gaining tariff preference in China, and must only be presented to China Customs.

Copies of the FTA CoO must not be made, or used for any other purposes such as quarantine.

China Customs has advised that making copies of the original FTA CoO is not acceptable because having several copies in circulation increases the risk of fraud. Only one (1) original certificate of origin is to be issued as any others presented will be considered by China Customs as fraudulent.

This is likely to result in delays at the border, importers asked to provide more information, or denial of FTA tariff preference.

Some branches of China Inspection and Quarantine agencies (CIQs) seek origin documents for quarantine purposes. With the exception of wine, this is not a formal requirement for inspection and quarantine purposes.

What exporters to China should do:

  • Check with your importer or agent in China to confirm if origin documents are required for CIQ purposes, as providing this is only required by some ports.
  • If origin documents are required for CIQ purposes, one option is to present a non-preferential Certificate of Origin, which can also be obtained from authorised bodies.
  • Contact your local Chamber of Commerce or authorised body directly regarding the different types of certificates of origin.

Paul also commented frontline customs officers in China will look at the document as an image and compare it to an ‘approved’ template version in respect to formatting. There is no discretion allowed from the ‘approved’ template version.

Should the document presented not replicate the template (even down to print format/column widths) it will most likely be queried and its authenticity questioned.

Paul also discussed how NZ companies can seek assistance when they have customs related issues in China.

He advised general customs information can be obtained for exports from New Zealand on the NZ Customs website – www.customs.govt.nz. For more specific enquiries relating to application of FTA customs related issues, the first point of contact is Peter Shepherd at NZ Customs Service – email [email protected].

Peter requires the information detailed below from NZ Exporters to make specific inquiries of China Customs and to best determine how Customs may assist you:

  1. China Customs Import declaration number
  2. Has the import declaration actually been ‘rejected’ and if so China Customs have provided a written reason for doing so
  3. Chinese Importer details (Full name)
  4. Chinese Buyers details (If different from above)
  5. NZ exporter’s full name
  6. Chinese Port of Entry
  7. Date of importation
  8. Mode of transport (Sea / Air)
  9. Was consignment transported direct to China or through another country / countries
  10. Tariff Item on Chinese import declaration
  11. Description of goods on import declaration
  12. Declared (CIF) value of goods on import declaration
  13. Was the China – NZ FTA preferential duty rate claimed
  14. Was a NZ issued FTA Certificate of Origin lodged with the import declaration (Provide number)

For any further information please feel free to contact us.

Source: CBAFF (Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Federation)


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