Certain imports will be subject to commodity inspection in respect for quality, weight, packaging, hygiene, safety and conformance to specifications. These are set out in the List of Commodities issued by the State Administration of Import and Export Commodity Inspection ("SACI"). The inspection is carried out by branches of the SACI or commodity inspection bureaus or organisations designated by the SACI.

The most recent List of Commodities was effective from January 1991 and specifies 302 items under 17 categories subject to commodity inspection.

Certain commodities on the List of Commodities may be exempt from inspection under certain conditions set out in the Exemption of Import and Export Commodities from Inspection Procedures promulgated by the SACI and MOFTEC in August 1994. The conditions include the following:-

(a) the manufacturer of the imported commodity has obtained a quality control appraisal from a recognised quality control body in the manufacturer's country;

(b) the imported commodity has had a 100% pass rate in respect of inspections by a PRC commodity inspection body over the previous consecutive three years;

(c) there have been no claims raised in respect of the quality of the commodity by PRC consumers.

However, the exemptions do not apply in respect of commodities involving safety and hygiene and specifically, perishable food products, toys, cosmetics and electrical appliances.

Application for an exemption from import commodity inspection may be made to the SACI. The application form must be accompanied by supporting documentation including the relevant appraisal certificates, customer feedback, evidence of internal quality control standards etc. The SACI will then commission a team to examine the application and who will produce a written report of its investigation. Upon approval of the application, a certificate of exemption will then be issued to the FIE.

For further information, see the articles headed "Import licensing in the PRC", "Import tariffs in the PRC" and "Customs formalities in the PRC".

This article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specific advice should be sought about individual circumstances. Further information or advice may be obtained from Linklaters & Paines, Hong Kong office, 14th Floor, Alexandra House, Chater Road, Hong Kong; telephone: (852) 2842 4888; fax: (852) 2810 8133; contact David Mullarkey or Jeremy Parr.