China to require import permits for dairy products
(Reuters – China)
Chinese importers of fresh milk, milk powder and whey will have to apply for import permits from the commerce ministry from August, a move to monitor rising imports after the domestic industry was hit by a tainted milk scandal last year.
Chinese buyers of dairy products would also have to report their cargoes to the ministry's chamber of commerce twice a month, the ministry said in a statement posted on its website (www.mofcom.gov.cn).
Milk powder imports surged 156.6 percent to 107,200 tonnes in the first five months of this year, mainly from Australia and New Zealand as many consumers switched to imported brands after last year's tainted milk scandal resulted in the deaths of at least six children, according to figures from China's Dairy Association.
The official Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday China's southern province of Guangdong, neighbouring Hong Kong, had imported 150 percent more dairy products in the first half of this year.
Imports rose 64.2 percent on year in the second half of last year after the outbreak of the tainted milk scandal.
The milk scandal coupled with a reduction in tariffs since late last year spurred imports, said Xinhua, citing official Customs reports.
China has cut the import tax on milk powder to 5 percent from 25 percent since the second half of last year.
Melamine, a chemical intermediate product, was found in many domestic dairy products last year, making tens of thousands of children sick. China has since tightened regulations aimed at ensuring the quality of dairy products.
Xinhua cited industry officials urging government authorities to take measures to avoid dumping of cheap foreign imports.
Prices for imported milk powder were 29 percent below costs for domestic producers, according to the report. China's major domestic dairy producers include Mengniu Dairy, Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co Ltd, and Bright Dairy & Food Co Ltd. 7-15-09
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