Under the Sino-U.S. trade agreement, the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC) has updated the List of Registered U.S. Pet Food Companies (commonly known as the White List or GACC list), adding 13 new companies.

The main ingredients of the registered pet food include pork, poultry and fish, which means that the 13 companies meet the basic conditions for exporting pet food to China. However, it does not mean that their products can be exported to China immediately — other procedures still need to be completed, so it remains possible that the products in question may not, in the end, be exportable to China.

Products still need registration, even if companies are on the GACC list

In addition to the registration at the General Administration of Customs, every overseas pet food product to enter China must register with the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, which includes a review of documentation and sample testing. According to Ministry inquiries made by Ring One Technology Consulting (Ring One), none of the 13 companies are (as of March 4, 2020) yet registered with the Ministry.

In line with current regulations, raw pet food materials for each pet food product must be in China’s “Directory of Feed Ingredients”: hygiene standards, physical and chemical indexes must conform to China’s mandatory requirements for pet food, and product packaging and claims also have specific provisions.

It still takes at least half a year to complete document registration and sample testing, or even longer if the production companies are required to adjust their product formula or packaging, etc. Only those products which pass review can obtain the necessary “Certificate of Registration” issued by the Ministry, and only then can said products be exported to China.

Other barriers to U.S. pet products entering China

The majority of U.S. pet food trademarks are not registered in category 3108 in China or registered by other companies, which is also a major barrier for companies’ products to enter China. According to Chinese laws, only trademarks registered in China are protected by law. If trademarks have been registered by others, direct export and sale of said products in China may cause trademark infringement and bring up legal risks.

It takes as little as one or two years or as long as five years (or even longer) for trademark disputes, and companies need to put much more energy and time into that.

GACC registration will be shortened to 1 month. Ministry of Agriculture registration will be shortened to 3 months for U.S. companies only.