China - Standards for Trade China - Trade Standards
The 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 (CCC) 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 (sometimes described as “GB” standards) can be either mandatory (technical regulations) or voluntary. Either way, they take precedence over all other types of standards.
In general, exporters to China should be aware of a few regulatory requirements in the standards and testing area. First, it is important to note that laws and regulations can reference voluntary standards, thereby making the voluntary standard, in effect, mandatory. Second, for certain products, such as certain electrical products, information technology products, consumer appliances, fire safety equipment and auto parts, CNCA requires that a safety and quality certification mark (the aforementioned CCC mark) be obtained by a manufacturer before selling in or importing to China. This process can take some time. 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 the CCC mark described above. This often leads to onerous, duplicative testing requirements.
Technical Committees (TC) 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 may participate, but often do so with limited voting rights), and academia. Under recent reforms to China’ standardization process, industry alliances are also being formed. It remains to be seen what role they will play in standards setting and to what degree foreign companies will be allowed to participate.
Additionally, other government agencies, such as the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), can approve and promulgate technical regulations that may reference voluntary standards, rendering them mandatory.
SAC is currently undergoing a complete reform of its standards setting system. It will continue with its top-down system in which the government sets standards, but it will also encourage industry-level work to develop standards. The stated goal of the reform is to decrease the number of mandatory standards, and employ a top-down system like the European Union, as well as a bottom-up system like the United States’ system. A possible unintended outcome might be more domestic standards instead of adoption of international standards. China has repeatedly stated that it intends to become a significant player in international standards organizations. The United States will continue to monitor this progress. In April 2016, China released its Draft Standardization Law for public comment. USG and U.S. industry submitted comments. The final version has not been released as of April 2017.
Testing, Inspection & Certification
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 23 categories, 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. Domestic products also 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. At present, three foreign testing labs (one U.S., one Hong Kong, and one Swiss) have been approved to test to CCC mark standards. The application process can take several months or more, and can cost upward of $4,500 in fees, in addition to inspectors’ travel costs. 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. Applicants’ factories are also required to undergo inspection to determine whether the product line matches the samples tested in China. 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 U.S. Department of Commerce maintains a comprehensive CCC mark website to help U.S. exporters determine whether they need the CCC mark and how to apply:. The bottom of the above website link has contact information for the Office of China and Mongolia at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Though the CCC mark is China‘s most widely required product certification mark, other product certification requirements exist. These include, for example, requirements for boilers and 81 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, which is also administered by AQSIQ.
The China National Accreditation Service for Conformity Assessment (CNAS) is the national accreditation body of China solely responsible for the accreditation of certification bodies, laboratories and inspection bodies, which is established under the approval of the Certification and Accreditation Administration of China (CNCA) and authorized by the CNCA in accordance with the Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Certification and Accreditation. The list of accredited bodies can be found on the CNAS website. Over the past few years, CNCA has gradually approved a few foreign labs for testing certain products for the CCC mark. For example, in 2014, UL was approved for testing HVAC equipment. In 2016 UL’s Suzhou lab was approved for testing motors, and in January 2017 it was approved for testing wire and cable to the CCC mark standards. Additional foreign lab approval will likely make the CCC process much less cumbersome and expensive.
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). However, China often only gives a few weeks, as opposed to the standard of 30 to 60 days practiced by other nations.
Contact Information for Trade Standards
Liting Bao, Liting.Bao@trade.gov
T: +86 10 8531-3889