NEW YORK Constant changes to Chinas heightened inspection on imports of raw material, dubbed Operation Green Fence, will continue to pose challenges in 2014, according to exporters of nonferrous scrap.
Chinese officials first unveiled the program in late February on the heels of a new regime (amm.com, March 13). The rules, which were originally stated in a 2006 report issued by Chinas State Environmental Protection Administration listing banned items found in nonferrous scrap, had been loosely enforced prior to start of the initiative, exporters said.
Most believed the measures were enacted as part Chinas broad effort to reduce worsening environmental conditions. And while the initiative was certainly a step in the right direction for China, early communication issues between U.S.-based exporters and Chinese customs officials proved problematic.
U.S. scrap exporters have expressed concern over Chinas ability to uniformly enforce the restrictions, citing uncertainty of whether material would be rejected or accepted, depending on the port of entry (amm.com, April 2).
As the year progressed, China placed additional restrictions on imports of scrap, including a ban on all inbound deliveries of zurik, or shredded nonferrous sensor-sorted scrap (amm.com, June 12). Additionally, China Inspection & Certification Co. Ltd. began requiring shippers to take a series of detailed photos of material destined for Chinese ports (amm.com, Sept. 10).
Early reports said Operation Green Fence would end in November 2013, but it was later revealed that the initiative would likely stay in place for the foreseeable future.
Customs officials also recently announced a second-tier program, dubbed Earth GoddessPhase III, which focuses on combating the smuggling of hazardous waste material imported by China from Europe and North America (amm.com, Oct. 16).
Several U.S. exporters said the problem with these programs stems from Chinas continued inability to properly communicate details of the new regulations, rather than with the intended purpose of the initiatives.
"Shippers still feel somewhat threatened by both the enforcement and the fact that there is often minimal notice given of changes in practice," one exporter told AMM. "We know what the rules are now, but changes that occur swiftly are alarming and in the long term are damaging."