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March 7, 2018

Scrap gets mention in USTR China report

A 160-page report released in January 2018 by the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) expresses numerous concerns about China’s trade policies, with scrap materials among the many sectors mentioned. (The report, 2017 Report to Congress On China’s WTO Compliance, can be downloaded at

In a section on China’s import licensing policies, the authors write, “A variety of specific compliance issues continue to arise. In 2017, these included a new import ban on recoverable wastes [plus] the administration of the tariff-rate quota system for fertilizer [and] the administration of the tariff-rate quota system for certain agricultural commodities.”

In a section titled “Standards, Technical Regulations and Conformity Assessment Procedures,” a subsection titled “Import Ban on Recoverable Materials” provides more detail.

Recounting the Chinese Ministry of Environment and Protection (MEP) July 2017 notification to the World Trade Organization (WTO) about a ban on two dozen types of scrap imports, the USTR writes, “The comment periods provided by China were less than the 60 days required by the TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) Agreement, and the time frame for implementation was less than six months.”

Addressing new scrap contamination thresholds announced by the MEP later in 2017, the USTR authors write, “It does not appear that similar restrictions apply to domestically sourced recoverable wastes or recovered materials.”

Regarding the potential economic harm, the authors add, “U.S. exports to China of the recoverable wastes or recovered materials covered by the measures totaled $479 million in 2016. U.S. stakeholders expect the measures to have significant negative impact on those exports. In 2018, the United States will continue to urge China to reconsider its approach.”

The report notes rules created by China’s State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) as consistently having resulted in barriers for companies exporting goods to China.