KATHMANDU, Nov 30: Exporters of Nepali food items to China now need to put product labeling in Chinese language with the northern neighbor making the new rule mandatory for all its food imports.
According to the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DoFTQC), the Chinese government has recently enacted a regulation that allows its traders to import only the packed foods that have product information in Chinese language.
“Now onward, exporters of Nepali packed foods will have to maintain the specification in Chinese language on top of the one written in English,” Mohan Krishna Maharjan, the spokesperson for DoFTQC, told Republica.
China so far had been allowing import of edibles based on the specification written in English language.
“We will now issue export license to China to only those firms that maintain labeling in Chinese language in their food products,” Maharjan told Republica.
Maharjan said that the northern neighbor, however, had not specified any additional standard for Nepali food items if they meet the sanitary and phytosanitary measures. “As of now, the Chinese side has acknowledged the lab certification produced by the department,” he added.
According to the DoFTQC, food testing laboratory at the department is accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories, India. In addition, the department's laboratory has been recognized with ISO 17000 quality certification.
Maharjan said the laboratory is capable of testing 101 parameters in edibles. "We can issue quality certifications to the exporters on proximate analysis, chemical analysis, contaminations, presence of heavy metals, pesticide residue and microbiological substances, among others," he added.
China has offered duty-free access to more than 8,000 Nepali goods. However, Nepal has failed to cash in on this opportunity due to low exportable commodity. Nepal has been basically exporting handicraft products including metal and woolen crafts, pashmina and silver jewelry, among others, to the northern neighbor.
Data compiled by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies shows that Nepal exports a total of 460 goods to China. The record of Nepal Rastra Bank shows that noodles, tea and wheat flour are the major food items that Nepal exports to China.
During Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Nepal last month, an agreement was signed allowing Nepal to export its citrus fruits to China as per the existing standards. Maharjan told Republica that the government is in the process of enlisting 151 Nepali food products, including fresh vegetables and fruits, to export in China.
China is one of the major export destination countries for Nepali products. In the first three months of the current fiscal year, Nepal exported goods worth Rs 450 million to China, making the northern neighbor its 6th largest export market.