Chinese authorities now demand that imported American goods must be “mosquito-free” to prevent the Zika virus from spreading to Asia. The decision is expected to create export delays and has U.S. exporters and government officials scrambling for a regulatory solution.
The Chinese General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine stated that “with immediate effect, it means that there is a need to provide a certificate of extermination of mosquito. If no certificate is provided, the buyer must fumigate the cargo at arrival at port of destination.” The notice was relayed by the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).
The U.S. based Agriculture Transportation Coalition said in a statement that it expects that the new rules will disrupt U.S. exporters’ ability to deliver goods in an affordable and timely manner. That said, the publication by the Chinese regulators fails to define matters such as how to treat and inspect shipments.
The new rules also fail to distinguish between modes of transport, raising the question of how air cargo carriers will adapt. The announcement states, broadly, that “vehicles and containers from the countries and regions shall be subject to effective anti-mosquito treatment…” and calls for immediate “implementation of anti-mosquito treatment.”
In China, the agency states that “port authorities shall adopt effective anti-mosquito measures to eliminate mosquito breeding sites, reducing the mosquito density of the port. Inspection and quarantine authorities shall strengthen port health supervision, to prevent the spread of mosquitoes in the port Zika virus and other infectious diseases.”
Zika is an arbovirus, meaning that it is an insect vector-borne disease, most commonly transmitted through Aedes (aegypti and albopictus) mosquitoes, but it can also be transmitted through exposure to infected blood or sexual contact. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 416,000 cases of Zika virus have been reported in 38 countries throughout the Americas. In the United States, more than 6,500 cases have been reported, but more than 83 percent have come from U.S. territories – especially Puerto Rico.
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