The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday released 31 registration forms and inventory lists Beijing requires Taiwanese exporters to fill out before they can send their products to China, showing that some of them have to disclose the proportions of ingredients used in their products, as well as the cooking time and temperature.
China last week unilaterally suspended imports of many Taiwanese products, including seafood, alcohol and other beverages, affecting 2,409 companies.
The Chinese General Administration of Customs said the companies had submitted incomplete registration information.
Photo copied by Yang Yuan-ting, Taipei Times
Over the past few days, Chinese-language media have reported that several Taiwanese companies are not planning to submit additional documents to resume exports to China, and would instead seek to sell their products in other countries, as the Chinese forms require them to reveal trade secrets.
Among the banned food companies, a Taipei-based producer of pineapple cakes was reported as having given up on submitting additional data required by China. The report cited the company’s owner as saying that she did not want to reveal the proportions of ingredients used, the layout of her factory and other information.
However, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus and some Chinese-language media have criticized the Council of Agriculture and the FDA, saying they had failed to help the companies complete the registrations and questioning whether the information required in the forms really amount to trade secrets.
Photo copied by Yang Yuan-ting, Taipei Times
FDA Director-General Wu Shou-mei (吳秀梅) on Tuesday evening said it is reasonable for a customs agency to ask importers to disclose the ingredients of food products, but the Chinese government goes beyond what is reasonable.
She said Beijing informed the FDA on March 9 that it would require firms to fill out the new registration forms, with the information required depending on what type of products they seek to import.
The FDA respects the companies’ decisions on whether they want to disclose the required information, she said, adding that the decisions involve commercial considerations.
The forms require certain food companies to disclose the proportions of ingredients, as well as processing methods, factory layout and workshop floor plans, as well as other information, the FDA said.
Beijing unilaterally decided to ask companies to use the new forms, requiring them to disclose information “in written form,” which means on paper, the FDA said.
Beijing uploaded the forms to its online food export integration platform on March 18, it added.
Minister of Health and Welfare Hsueh Jui-yuan (薛瑞元) said companies based in other countries can submit the information online.
For them, the “ingredient proportion” field is optional, while the paper forms that Taiwanese firms must use does not mark any fields as optional, Hsueh said.
The FDA said that regardless of whether a Taiwanese producer independently seeks to export goods to China or another company is involved, the forms are the same.
The Chinese customs agency helps companies complete the forms, it added.
As of yesterday, 31 products under “recommended registration” and 824 products under “self-registration” had been approved by Beijing, the FDA said.
Additional reporting by CNA
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