Fertilizer issue; Chinese dispute National Plant Quarantine in Sri Lanka
Posted on October 27th, 2021

Courtesy The Daily Mirror

Controversy involving fertilizer imports from China took a dramatic turn yesterday when the Chinese company, in a lengthy statement, disputed sample testing done here saying the  unscientific detection method and conclusion of National Plant Quarantine in Sri Lanka obviously does not comply with international animal and plant quarantine convention.

Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Lt, issuing a statement through the Chinese Embassy in Colombo said it had participated in the bidding and had won the bid successfully. It was officially listed as a qualified supplier for Tender No. IFB No.SMOF/OFPR/2021/1 on August 11, to supply 99,000 tons of organic fertilizer to Sri Lanka.

The statement said, After being awarded the tender, Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group signed contracts with the buyers through a local biding agent in Sri Lanka, and strictly fulfilled the contract. It overcame many difficulties, such as busy international and domestic orders, soaring global raw material prices, tight shipping schedules and berthing space, high sea freight cost and so on, and gave priority to ensure the production and delivery of the tender contract for Sri Lanka. After the buyer issued Letter of Credit (L/C), Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group shipped the organic fertilizer which comply with the quality requirements on September 23rd according to the time schedule required by L/C (before September 25th). While the goods were on the way by sea, CFC informed that “the import permit has not been obtained” and “the goods will be rejected”. However, according to international trade practices, it is the buyer’s obligation to obtain the import permit.

The failure to obtain the import permit is caused by the buyer’s mistakes and negative inaction. On September 23rd, Sri Lanka NPQ received the seller’s product samples. On September 27th, the seller received an oral notice from the buyer and was informed that Sri Lanka Plant Quarantine Center (NPQ) issued a conclusion of “suspecting that the samples contain Erwinia”, but did not provide the test report, test method and standards. According to ISPM27 rule in IPPC (International Plant Protection Convention), it will take more than 6 days to identify Erwinia, but NPQ only takes 3 days to draw a “suspicious” conclusion. After the supplier raised doubts, NPQ Sri Lanka updated the report on October 11th. 7 days was used to test, but it still did not indicate the test standards and methods.

Testing temperature of Erwinia shown in the report is 37 ℃, and carrot slices at 37 ℃ are used for pathogenicity test. According to the relevant agreement of IPPC, the testing temperature of Erwinia is 25 ℃, and healthy plants should be used for pathogenicity test. At least 13~14 days should be used to confirm Erwinia through pathogenicity. The unscientific detection method and conclusion of NPQ in Sri Lanka obviously do not comply with international animal and plant quarantine convention. In fact, the supplier’s product samples have passed the test of Schutter group, a third-party international testing organization designated by the buyer (SLSI) and
passed the export plant quarantine of China Customs before shipment on September 23. On October 5, according to the requirements of Sri Lanka NPQ, Testing Center of China Customs made a supplementary statement on the samples that the products do not contain Erwinia. However, Sri Lanka NPQ and the buyer openly denied the above test results and unilaterally used the test report issued by NPQ laboratory as the basis for judging the product quality, which is inconsistent with the contract agreement, international trade rules and the test result of their own designated third-party. After the seller received the buyer’s letter of credit, the buyer repeatedly violated the principle of independence of letter of credit, and obstructed the bank from paying the payment to the seller by arbitrarily changing the negotiation conditions of L/C, changing the settlement method from letter of credit to collection, applying to the court  for a stop payment order of letter of credit, etc. In the case of major differences between the two parties on the facts of contract performance and major disputes over the product quality test results, the buyer and NPQ Sri Lanka have irresponsibly conveyed false and even controversial remarks to the media for many times. The media that do not know the truth have made negative reports on the quality of Chinese enterprise and Chinese products, and even used “Toxic, garbage, pollution” and other derogatory words that seriously slander the image of Chinese enterprise and the Chinese government. Such unilateral, untrue, and irresponsible remarks mislead the public and undermine the credibility of the media. The above “deliberately creating difficulties”, “unreasonable” and even “malicious” acts of Sri Lanka NPQ, the buyer and some media give people reason to suspect that the buyer is creating various obstacles to obstruct the performance of the contract, and even has bad commercial intentions. What is the so-called “toxic” fertilizer?

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