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China hints at taking WTO action on spinach regulation.

BEIJING, Sept. 6 Kyodo


China hinted Friday if Japan bans the import of frozen spinach from China it will file a complaint with the World Trade organization (WTO), saying Japan's severe regulations on agricultural chemical residue are ''discriminatory'' and against WTO rules.

If Japan implements an import ban on frozen spinach, China will take necessary steps within the framework of the WTO, said Qin Zhenkui, chief of the department of export and import foods at the General Administration of Quality Supervision and Inspection.

In July, Japan's agriculture ministry said that frozen spinach imported from China contained higher-than-permitted levels of pesticide residue.

The spinach, imported by a trading company in Kobe in March, was found to contain 1.8 parts per million (ppm) of chlorpyrifos -- 180 times higher than permitted under Japan's Food Sanitation Law, said the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Qin said the 0.01 ppm permitted under the Japanese law is not appropriate internationally because it is stricter than the 0.05 ppm set by Western countries.

Jiang Fan, a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, said Japan's quarantine standards exceed global standards and constitute discrimination against Chinese products.

Japan's health ministry, meanwhile, disputed the Chinese allegation Friday, saying the standards are based on scientific studies and thus do not violate WTO rules. Japan is applying the standards for domestic and overseas agricultural products equally, the ministry said.

Japan is considering banning the import of frozen spinach from China unless the country voluntarily regulates exports of frozen spinach now in stock.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Sep 9, 2002
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