Mid-April the rules on PPE exports from China were tightened after complaints specifically from the USA. Governments around the world and hospitals complained of sub-standard PPE arriving.
These changes led to some in the USA to complain that China were now holding up PPE deliveries but today the rules have changed again. Those claiming China were holding up deliveries may be glad they have. After China un-covered a considerable volume of PPE being incorrectly labelled.
That is the view from many forwarders worldwide who have seen shipments returned to their suppliers after examination at the airport.
On the 26th April the rules changed again. Any supplier in China on the Chinese Medical Register needs to re-apply. An apparent reaction to the volume of shipments being turned away as mis-labelled when reaching Chinese airports.
PPE from China, what did China change
China brought into force a manadatory customs inspection at the airports for PPE goods leaving China. The biggest influence being on Face Masks. What China discovered though was a considerable number of masks being mis-declared. KN95 masks under EN149-2001+A1:2009 to Europe being exported as N95 masks. The USA equivalent is CFR 42-84-1995 being exported as if they are ASTM F2100:19 masks.
The difference between these masks is considerable. KN95 masks are classed as non-medical whilst N95 masks are the medical masks effective against COVID-19.
Over the last week what the industry has seen is many PPE shipments of face masks being returned to the supplier to be marked correctly. The importance is simple. If you are importing face masks to fight COVID-19 then it is key that you import the correct masks.
How have China reacted
The Chinese government have been quick to react. Barely a week after starting compulsory examination at the airports/ports they have taken decisive action.
All PPE suppliers in China must re-apply for the Chinese Medical register. They will need to confirm there operating procedures, standards and have a thorough understanding of how shipments must be marked for export.
Follw the rules which govern the export of Medical Face Masks and Non-medical face masks and advise their end customers of this.
How can importers protect themselves from fraud
The easiest way to protect yourself from fraud on non-medical against medical face masks is align yourself with a freight forwarder who understands the rules.
There are a number of freight forwarders out there who can do this for you. Be careful though as freight forwarders are struggling just as hard as other companies.
If you are based in the UK we would recommend John Good Logistics airfreight team who have assisted us with information on this article. Their airfreight team has a good understanding of the requirements for face masks out of China and other countries.
They are aware of which countries have banned exports saving you a lot of time and research. They are by all means not the only freight company in the UK who are staying up to date but we are seeing mis-information being provided to customers by forwarding companies.
Promises of transit times which are unachievable in the chase to take your order. Rates quoted which increase once the goods are at the airport. Nobody should be profiteering in the supply chain on imports at this time but with airfreight struggling for volume it is easy to get caught up.
Please do your research on your supplier and work with a freight forwarder who you can trust to assist. Do not leave it up to the supplier to ship sub-standard masks to you.