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Exporting Seafood to China: Market Trends, Regulations and the Procedure

By EUSME Centre | Guidelines      17.04.2017     Tags: Food & Beverages


China’s imports of seafood from EU grew from EUR 225.2 million in 2010 to EUR 385.3 million in 2015, led by rapid urbanisation, increasing incomes and more diversified retailed channels available in the country.

Mackerel, codfish, shrimp, cuttlefish, squid, plaice and oyster were among the main types of seafood imports to China from EU. 

Despite the vast opportunities emerging from this fast-growing market, the process of bringing seafood products to China and getting them sold is not simple. China’s new Food Safety Law, a stricter regulation effective since 2015, requires a seafood exporter to be cautious about their processing procedures and the qualifications of distributors, because the exporter and importer/distributor will all be responsible for food safety. Meantime, EU exporters may find pricing a challenge due to competition from countries or regions that have signed free trade agreements with China and enjoy preferential tariffs. 

This guideline prepared by the EU SME Centre and the China-Britain Business Council will clarify the exporting and importing procedure for seafood products under China’s new Food Safety Law. You will learn the eight steps to bringing your products to the country and what you should look out for at each step during the process. 

Key Contents


Market Overview
Seafood Consumption in China
  • Primary Consumption Areas

  • Key Drivers of Consumption

Regulatory Framework
  • Definition of Seafood in China    

  • Market Segmentations and Corresponding HS Codes

  • Regulatory Framework

Export Guidance
  • Step One: Agreement & Export Permit Confirmation

  • Step Two: Exporter Registration with Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA)

  • Step Three: Check Product Catalogue to identify if products can be exported to China

  • Step Four: Confirm Qualifications, identify Importer & Port of Entry

  • Step Five: Labelling

  • Step Six: AQSIQ Permit for Live Animal and Packaging

  • Step Seven: Prepare Documentation for CIQ

  • Step Eight: Inspection Declaration and Customs Clearance Process

  • Exceptions

Challenges and Recommendations

Cases and Examples


  • China’s Standards for Seafood

  • National Standard for Food Safety (Seafood)

  • Seafood Processing Industry Standard

  • Chinese Administration

  • Regulations and Laws

  • Trade Shows



About the Authors

Peipei Xiong, Project Executive, China- Britain Business Council (CBBC)

Peipei Xiong joined CBBC as Project Executive in January 2013 and has helped several UK companies to enter the Chinese market or identify potential partners in China. Peipei has been involved in projects in various industries including healthcare and life-sciences, ICT, food & beverage and cultural and creative industries. Peipei has previously co-written the EU SME Centre’s Medical Device report, which was published in 2015 and co-presented a webinar, which provided an overview of the report and opportunities for EU SMEs in China. Peipei holds a bachelor's degree in English Language and Literature from Shihezi University.

Aideen Clery, Trade Services Manager, China- Britain Business Council (CBBC)

Aideen Clery assists with the delivery of Business Support Services (BSS) projects across CBBC’s 13 offices in China. She has worked on over 400 BSS projects and other CBBC Research projects since joining CBBC in 2012. Aideen has worked on reports covering various sectors including food & beverage, advanced engineering, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, cosmetics and retail  amongst others; Aideen has therefore developed knowledge of the challenges companies face when entering in the Chinese market. Aideen came to China in July 2012. In September 2016, she transferred to Belfast, to head up CBBC’s Northern Ireland office. Aideen has a BA in Language and Cultural Studies and Masters in International Relations.

Martina Gerst, Standard and Conformity Assessment Advisor, EU SME Centre

Martina has over 15 years professional industry and consulting experience in Europe and China across different industry sectors including automotive, mechanical engineering, ICT, chemical/pharmaceutical and electric/electronics. She has worked in different positions and projects for leading international companies and European SMEs focussing on Quality and Supply Chain Management, CCC conformity, homologation, and IPR protection. Besides this, Martina has contributed to a number of EU-China cooperation projects with AQSIQ, CNCA, and various European organisations and governments on New Energy Vehicle Standards and Conformity, environmental standards, ICT, and trade secrecy related issues. Martina holds a PhD and an LLM in Innovation, Technology, and Law from the University of Edinburgh. She has authored papers and reports on ICT standardisation, innovative technologies, conformity and IPR. Currently heading up the standards and conformity assessment team in the EU SME Centre, Martina advises European SMEs on their market access to China.


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