Trade barriers

Government authorities

What government office handles complaints from domestic exporters against foreign trade barriers at the WTO or under other agreements?

Complaints from domestic exporters about foreign trade barriers and other issues concerned are handled by the TRB under MOFCOM. Dispute settlement under the WTO DSB framework or other bilateral or multilateral agreements is handled by the Department of Treaty and Law of MOFCOM (see http://tfs.mofcom.gov.cn).

Complaint filing procedure

What is the procedure for filing a complaint against a foreign trade barrier?

A complaint against a foreign trade barrier may be filed by an interested party or may be self-initiated by MOFCOM. Petitions on behalf of the domestic industry must be presented to MOFCOM in writing, by natural or legal persons or organisations representing the domestic industry. MOFCOM must decide within 60 days of the date of receipt of a petition whether there are valid grounds to initiate an investigation.

The information to be included in the petition differs according to the trade barrier concerned in each case. Generally, basic information about the petitioner and the domestic industry of the products or services affected and evidence of negative effects are required.

Grounds for investigation

What will the authority consider when deciding whether to begin an investigation?

After receiving a petition and the relevant materials (see question 16), MOFCOM will review all the information contained in the petition through questionnaires and on-site verifications as necessary. If the information and evidence provided by the petition are accurate and sufficient, then MOFCOM will initiate an investigation.

Measures against foreign trade barriers

What measures outside the WTO may the authority unilaterally take against a foreign trade barrier? Are any such measures currently in force?

China only takes measures against a foreign trade barrier within the framework of the WTO or under other bilateral and multilateral agreements, and holds bilateral consultations with the government of the importing country to solve the trade barrier. In April 2018, the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council of China announced the cessation of a tariff concession and imposed a tariff of 15 per cent on 120 items of products including fruits from the US and a tariff of 25 per cent on eight items, including pork, from the US, in response to the new US tariffs on steel and aluminium, as a result of 232 investigations, which took effect on 8 March.

Private-sector support

What support does the government expect from the private sector to bring a WTO case?

The government expects no financial support from the private sector in bringing a WTO case. However, when bringing a case to the WTO, relevant domestic enterprises, industries, organisations or legal persons are expected to cooperate and provide necessary trade data and information in order to support the case.

Notable non-tariff barriers

What notable trade barriers other than retaliatory measures does your country impose on imports?

Import prohibitions, restrictions and non-automatic licensing are maintained in China to safeguard national security, public morality, human, animal and plant health, and the environment and exhaustible natural resources; to comply with China’s obligations under international agreements; and for balance of payments reasons. There is an import licensing regime, under which there are three types of licences:

  • automatic licences, which are in place to monitor trade volumes of imports that are not restricted, for statistical purposes. Goods subject to automatic import licensing are listed in the Catalogue of Goods subject to Automatic Licensing (see www.mofcom.gov.cn/article/b/c/201712/20171202690183.shtml);
  • non-automatic licences. Certain products (such as key old mechanical and electrical products and ozonosphere-consuming products) require import licences in China (see www.mofcom.gov.cn/article/b/c/201801/20180102693327.shtml); and
  • tariff-rate quota certificates. Only eight types of products are restricted by the tariff-rate quota, which are listed in the Catalogue of Goods subject to Tariff-rate Quota (see http://gss.mof.gov.cn/zhengwuxinxi/zhengcefabu/201712/P020171215531850286810.pdf).