International trade: packaging material

New legislation (“Plant Health Law”) impacting wood packaging material for imported goods will enter into force on the 14th of December 2019. Shippers are affected – if a violation takes place, it may lead to disruptions and delays in shippers’ supply chains.

The new rules aim to ensure safe trade, as well as to mitigate the impacts of climate change on the health of EU crops and forests. Plant pests, potentially harmful for agriculture, can move into international trade through wood packaging material (drums, packing cases, load boards, and pallets). Pallets are used worldwide in the shipment of 90% of goods.

Current restrictions have been alredy covering imports from China and Belarus with 1% of shipments undergoing checks at border controls or approved places of destination. The European Commission is compiling a database of compliance and non-compliance results of all the inspections and preparing horizontal measures to avoid the risk of contamination brought by wood packaging material in international trade. Public consultations on new legislation will take place before July 2019.

To avoid additional costs, the EC advises shippers to specify in the contract who is responsible for non-compliance of wood packaging material. Currently most checks take place at the destination. However, the EC would prefer to see the information about the wood packaging material already in the entry summary declaration.

For more information, please see Regulation (EU) 2016/2031 on protective measures against plant pests (“Plant Health Law”) adopted in October 2016 by the European Parliament and the Council and that will be applicable from the 14th of December 2019.

For the DG SANTE presentation at the ESC meeting, please see here.