China’s Standardization Administration of China (SAC) is the central accrediting body for all activity related to developing and promulgating national standards in China. The China National Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) coordinates compulsory certification and testing, including the China Compulsory Certification system. Both SAC and CNCA are administratively under the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ).
Standards in China fall into at least one of four broad categories: National Standards, Industry Standards, Local or regional Standards, and Enterprise Standards for individual companies. National Standards can be either mandatory (technical regulations) or voluntary. In any case, they take precedence over all other types of standards.
In general, exporters to China should be aware of three broad regulatory requirements in the standards and testing area. First, SAC maintains more than 22 thousand national standards (GB standards or Guo Biao), of which about 14 per cent, are mandatory. It is also important to note that laws and regulations can reference voluntary standards, thereby making the voluntary standard, in effect, mandatory. Second, for products in a broad range of categories including more than 159 items (e.g., certain electrical products, information technology products, consumer appliances, fire safety equipmentand auto parts) China’s CNCA requires that a safety and quality certification mark, the China Compulsory Certification (CCC) mark, be obtained by a manufacturer before selling in or importing to China. Third, numerous government agencies in China mandate industry-specific standards or testing requirements for products under their jurisdiction in addition to the GB standards and CCC mark described above.
Technical Committees developing national or “GB” standards must be accredited by SAC These TCs are comprised of members from government agencies, private industry associations, companies (sometimes local branches of foreign companies but often with limited voting rights), and academia. Other government agencies, such as the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and other, can approve and promulgate technical regulations that may reference voluntary standards, rendering them mandatory.
NIST Notify U.S. Service
Member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are required under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) to report to the WTO all proposed technical regulations that could affect trade with other Member countries. Notify U.S. is a free, web-based e-mail subscription service that offers an opportunity to review and comment on proposed foreign technical regulations that can affect your access to international markets.
CNCA is the primary government agency responsible for supervision of China’s conformity assessment policies, including its primary safety and quality mark, the CCC mark. CNCA supervises the work of the China National Accreditation Service for Conformity Assessment (CNAS), which accredits certification bodies and laboratory and inspection facilities.
The China Compulsory Certification (CCC) mark is China’s national safety and quality mark. The mark is required for 22 categories including 159 products, ranging from electrical fuses to toaster ovens to automobile parts to information technology equipment. About 20 percent of U.S. exports to China are on the product list. If an exporter’s product is on the CCC mark list, it cannot enter China until CCC registration has been obtained, and the mark physically applied to individual products as an imprint or label. Similarly, domestic products cannot be sold in China without obtaining registration and applying the mark on individual products. The CCC mark system is administered by CNCA.
Obtaining the CCC Mark involves an application process to authorized Chinese certification bodies. The application process can take several months, and can cost upward from USD 4,500 in fees. The process includes sending testing samples to a Chinese laboratory and testing in those labs to ensure the products meet safety and/or electrical standards. A factory inspection of the applicant’s factories, to determine whether the product line matches the samples tested in China, is also required. Finally, Chinese testing authorities approve the design and application of the CCC logo on the applicant’s products. Some companies, especially those with a presence in China and with a dedicated certification/standards staff, are able to manage the application process in-house. Other exporters can tap the expertise of standards consultants based both in the U.S. and in China who can provide application management services and handle all aspects of the application process.
The Department of Commerce has also sponsored CCC Mark Seminars in cities across the U.S. Contact the Office of Market Access and Compliance, China Economic Area of the Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, or visit its website for more information. Though the CCC mark is China’s most widely required product certification mark, other product certification requirements exist. These include requirements for boilers and pressure vessels, under a product certification regime administered by the Special Equipment Licensing Office of AQSIQ. Another product certification scheme is required for certain measurement equipment, known as Certificate of Pattern Approval, also administered by AQSIQ.
Publication of Technical Regulations
China is obligated to notify other World Trade Organization members of proposed technical regulations that would significantly affect trade. Notifications are made through the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) committee notification point. All members, including China, are required to allow for a reasonable amount of time for comments to proposed technical regulations, i.e., compulsory standards. (See the link, below, to a free service that delivers notifications to your e-mail in-box.)
Labeling and Marking
As noted in the Product and Certification Section above, products requiring the CCC mark, in addition to undergoing an application and testing process, must have the mark physically applied on products before entering China or being sold in China. Labeling and marking requirements are mostly made by different industry authorities. But, all products sold in China must be marked in the Chinese language. The State Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ) requires imported and exported (but not domestic) food items such as candy, wine, nuts, canned food, and cheese to have labels verified and products tested for quality before a good can be imported or exported. According to the Food Labeling Standards of China,imported foods shall have clear markings that indicate the country of origin, in addition to the name and address of the general distributor registered in the country.