China postponed for two years a regulation requiring certificates guaranteeing the quality and safety of all food imports, after pushback from the U.S. and European countries.
The delay came just before the rule's Oct. 1 deadline. Western trade groups said implementation in effect would cut China off from much of the global food supply. The rule covers all food products, from raw ingredients to processed items, requiring certification for each shipment, a condition Western governments argued was unnecessarily stringent.
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China notified the World Trade Organization on Monday that it will institute a two-year transition period for the rule, a representative at a government office that reports trade measures to the WTO said by telephone Tuesday. She declined to give a reason for the change.
A 2015 China food safety law required that food and beverage importers obtain a certificate from an imported product's country of origin guaranteeing compliance with Chinese standards. Western trade groups said that by covering all food shipments rather than just higher-risk foods, the measure was out of step with global practices.
"The new measures indicate that China is replacing its risk-based food safety management system with a one-size-fits-all approach," the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said in a statement Tuesday. "This is not in line with international practice."
Earlier this year, Beijing announced an implementation date of Oct. 1, but with a grace period of one year. This week's filing sets that timetable back one more year.
China is facing higher scrutiny of its trade practices, with foreign companies complaining about unfair treatment. The Trump administration has launched an investigation into alleged Chinese infringement of American companies' trademarks, proprietary technologies and other intellectual property.
Yang Jie contributed to this article.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 26, 2017 09:05 ET (13:05 GMT)