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China’s Government Restructure Impacts Environmental Regulatory Oversight

The just-concluded 13th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party was one of the more active sessions in recent years. As widely reported, the parliament voted to remove term limits, giving President Xi Jinping clearance to rule, essentially, for life.


But more impactful to the recycling industry is the approval to restructure the government that will affect key ministries responsible for scrap trade. Under the plan, the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), which was responsible for the new scrap import regulations, will be abolished and a new entity - the Ministry of Ecological Environment (MEE) – will be given sweeping powers to manage the government’s environmental improvement strategy.

In addition, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ), which has been responsible for the implementation of import/export policies for decades, will be combined with the General Administration of Customs and folded into a newly created National Market Supervision Administration.

The restructuring plan is intended to move toward greater centralization and increased party control. As the environment remains one of the Party’s top three strategic priorities, President Xi has full control of the future trajectory of his nation’s economy. Thus, we believe that the 2017 pronouncements to better manage waste, including restrictions on scrap imports and increasing financial resources toward enhancing domestic recycling, are the new reality of the Chinese market. The regulations, we believe, are here to stay.

ISRI had worked hard in the last year to redevelop relationships that, at minimum, offered insights into how the new scrap import regulations would be implemented. Now, as the government restructures, officials will be unlikely open to meetings with the private sector and some officials are likely to be reassigned, creating uncertainty about our continued access into the Chinese Government. Nevertheless, ISRI staff plans to be in China the week after Convention for outreach with the Central Government as well as State and local level where these regulations are being implemented.

Please contact Adina Renee Adler if you have any questions. 

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