PPE Part 4:  Can you import Chinese made PPE into your country?

Insider’s Guide: How to buy PPE from China during Covid-19 pandemic.

PPE Part 4: Can you import Chinese made PPE into your country?

A growing number of people are looking into buying PPE from China for supply as the world scrambles to source equipment during the Covid-19 pandemic. Can you import Chinese made PPE into your country.

Introduction to our series on buying PPE from China during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A growing number of buyers are looking to China for supply as the world scrambles to source personal protective equipment during the Covid-19 pandemic.

China sourcing was never easy, but the sourcing game has been taken to a whole new level of complexity as the pandemic turns the supply chain upside down.  A totally new set of dangers now exist on top of the common pitfalls that have plagued Chinese supply chains for decades.

In this series of blog posts and video tutorials, the author will walk the reader thru 6 essential steps for safely sourcing PPE from China.

Safely source PPE from China: 6 Steps

  • Is the seller a real company? Avoid the scams
  • If yes, are they making the products you actually want?
  • If yes, can this supplier export out of China to you?
  • If yes, can you import into your county?
  • Does it still make economic sense after factoring in the costs of air or sea transportation?
  • If the goods arrive in your country’s port, how to ensure they make it to your door?

Before we explore the steps in detail, let’s first confirm these articles are right for you as the reader.

Target Audience for this article on how to buy PPE from China during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In my consulting practice during the past few months, I have found that the potential clients fall into 3 categories.

This series of articles is written for readers who fall into Groups 2 and 3. If you fall into group 1, shame on you and consider the arrest of this joker who horded masks in NYC before you make your next move.

Insider’s Guide:  How to buy PPE from China during Covid-19 pandemic.

Part 4:   Can you import Chinese made PPE into your country?

Key Steps:

  1. Is the seller a real company? Avoid the scams
  2. If yes, are they making the products you actually want?
  3. If yes, can this supplier export out of China to you?
  4. If yes, can you import into your county?
  5. Does it still make economic sense after factoring in the costs of air or sea transportation?
  6. If the goods arrive in your country’s port, how to ensure they make it to your door?

Step Four Explained in Detail:  Can you import Chinese made PPE into your country?

In step one (link) we covered how to avoid scams when sourcing PPE during the pandemic.  Now let’s explore how to confirm if the supplier you found can really make the products you want to buy.

In step two (link) we explored how to confirm if the supplier you found can really make the products you want to buy.

In step three (link) we learn not assume it will be easy for your supplier to even ship the PPE out of China.

In step four we look at how to answer a key question that too many would-be importers forget to ask: can you easily import Chinese made PPE into your county?

The realities of importing PPE into your home country

This particular section is by far the hardest for me to write about because:

  1. The rules and regulations are changing almost daily during the pandemic.
  2. Readers of this article are from a wide range of countries, each with their own rules & regulations. Covering them all is outside the scope of this article.

For example, at the time of writing, if you are hoping to import PPE into the USA, you need to have a clear understanding of the latest rules and regulations promulgated by both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  You also need to understand the standards set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  And if that wasn’t enough to deal with, there are also temporary exclusions from certain “normal” FDA rules called “Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs)” that could impact your business in a big way.  And don’t forget to pay attention to the alerts coming out of the Center for Disease Control (CDC)!

Where to get up-to-date information on the rules and regulations related to importing PPE in my home country?

Each country, from Nigeria to Nicaragua, from Canada to Cameron, has their own version of the FDA and CBP.  Those would be the first places to check if you are thinking about importing PPE.  The next step would be to visit with a local freight forwarder, AKA customs broker, AKA 3rd Party Logistics (3PL) provider.

 

How to find a knowledgeable logistics partner to guide my shipment thru inbound customs?

Just like picking suppliers in China, the problem isn’t finding a logistics partner, as there are so many to choose from, the problem is how to find the right one for your particular needs.

You should be looking for logistics partners that have experience importing PPE from China into the specific domestic port.

Here are some steps to help guide you thru the selection process:

  1. If you don’t already have a relationship with a suitable logistics provider, do an internet search with key words such as “3PL” or “Customs broker” or “Freight Forwarder” + “name of port”.  This will most likely generate a significant list.

  2. The next step is to contact the ones that seem to have what you’re looking for and learn if they will be a good fit for you.  We like 3PL’s that have at least 5 years of experience importing products from China into your destination port and ideally have some experience in your specific type of PPE.

  3. Your prospective service providers should be able to give you a list of client references they are currently doing business with.

  4. Once you narrow it down to a handful of options based on initial talks and references, ask for an estimate on freight.  What separates the great companies from the good ones will be the format and timing of their quote.  If they take more than a few days to get back to you, it probably means that they don’t have well-developed shipping channels and are trying to set something up just for your order. If at all possible, try to avoid having your order serve as some 3PL’s first attempt at doing business with China. Pay special attention to the form of their quote. It should be an actual form based on a template, not just a few sentences or pricing sent via email.  If they don’t have a set format for estimates or quotes that is a sign that their level of professionalism is probably not what you should accept.  The quote should be easy to understand and if you are unclear about a particular line item on the quote the 3PL should be able to explain it to your satisfaction. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Better to ask in advance before getting hit with surprise charges later.Remember, the situation surrounding PPE imports is changing on a daily basis. If your potential shipping partner isn’t on top of things, it could cause you big headaches down the road.

  5. Shipping rates change on a day to day basis, and unless you are ready to ship immediately after receipt of the quote, most likely the quote will be an estimate.  So, we like 3PLs that will hold their quote valid for an allotted time or at least offer to re-quote closer to the actual ship date so that the buyer knows the exact costs in advance.

  6. It also helps to negotiate your terms with the shipper so that their service fees are paid upon delivery, as opposed to paying them upfront.  Regardless, you don’t actually have a lot of leverage since the shipper has physical control of your goods and could choose not to immediately release them if there are any confrontations about pricing at the last minute.  So, it is very important to find a professional company upfront and negotiate the terms and pricing well in advance.

Pro Tip:

On countless occasions we have had shippers send us invoices after delivery which were much higher than the agreed estimate.  As you are confirming the fees, ask these powerful questions:

  • “Does this price include everything to get the product from X to Y, even taxes, duties?
  • “Is there anything that is not included in this price?”
  • “Will you put in writing that the amount to be invoiced will not exceed the agreed estimate?”

Related Content:

Five short videos covering tips and strategies for buyers who are buying small order sizes from China.

revised from: Apr 19, 2020

About the Author: Michael J. Bellamy

About the Author: Michael J. Bellamy

Originally from Upstate New York, Mike moved to Asia in 1993 and is a China business advisor to both Fortune 500 companies and small businesses.  Recognized as an expert on doing business in China, he has been interviewed by WSJ, CNBC, FT & Bloomberg.

A featured presenter on China issues at seminars, trade shows and corporate events across the globe.

Learn more about Mike and AsiaBridge Law at
https://www.asiabridgelaw.com/business-advisory-services/

Mike is the author of “The Essential Reference Guide to China Sourcing
(available on Amazon).

Ready to Contact AsiaBridge Law?

If you’re ready to get started with AsiaBridge Law or would like more information,
please click here to go to our contact page and fill out our short form.