Revised rules that govern the China Compulsory Certification (CCC) mark may create extra hurdles for US companies seeking product certification and compliance. The Revised Management Regulations for Compulsory Product Certification, issued by the PRC Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ) on July 3, contain new provisions on product recalls and mandatory certification, grant local AQSIQ bureaus greater authority to conduct on-site investigations, and increase penalties for noncompliance. The regulations, which take effect September 1 and replace regulations passed in December 2001, provide the framework for accrediting and licensing companies to produce various types of products.
The new regulations closely resemble the draft circulated by AQSIQ and notified under the World Trade Organization’s Technical Barriers to Trade Committee in June 2008. Final provisions address:
- Product recalls New provisions state—more explicitly than previous drafts or existing regulations—that producers and sellers of CCC products that pose a safety risk or cause a safety incident should promptly issue a product recall and notify local authorities and the public of the safety concerns and the recall.
- Market surveillance Local AQSIQ branches have new authority to conduct on-site inspections, including the power to halt cargo shipments, materials, and contracts related to CCC products. Such actions could cause delays for many companies, and new provisions that give local inspectors more authority to conduct inspections raise serious questions about the confidentiality and possible misuse of AQSIQ-collected data.
- Applying for changes to certification Companies are now required to apply for changes to their certification in various new circumstances, including if any “key component” changes; if there are changes to design, structure, process, or material that affect the safety of the product; or if the material manufacturer changes. The term “key component,” however, is not defined, and companies could find the process of applying for an altered certification whenever a supplier or material changes burdensome.
- Penalties for noncompliance The new regulations increase fines and penalties significantly. Under the previous regime, firms that failed to comply with CCC regulations—by failing to certify products or apply and use CCC marks—faced two levels of fines. The new regulations add more categories of noncompliance and refine and expand penalties. For example, the new regulations add language that penalizes companies that counterfeit or sell CCC marks or use canceled or expired certification documents. The revised regulations also raise fines for some violations—the fine for companies that are certified but do not apply CCC labels to their products has doubled to ¥20,000 ($2,928).
- Expiration of CCC certification Previously, CCC certification did not expire. The new provisions specify a five-year validity period for CCC certification and require a company to apply for an extension within 90 days of expiration. This increases the regulatory burden on companies and raises questions about treatment of products if the extension is not approved before the original certification expires.
- Inclusion of industry standards Under the new regulations, certification rules should require companies to adapt to product-specific standards, including national standards, national technical standards, industry standards, and local standards. In the past, the majority of industry standards were recommended but not mandatory, and it is unclear what implications this language might have for industrial standards or companies’ participation in setting industrial standards.
China’s CCC mark system was first implemented in 2002 by the China National Certification Administration, with an initial catalogue of products heavily weighted toward industrial and electric products. Since then, various notices have expanded the list to include some auto and motorcycle parts, children’s toys, information technology products, and agricultural machinery.