Skip to main content

Zika Presence in US May Mean Costly Container Fumigation for Exporters

China has been keeping a list of countries infected with the Zika virus and now the United States is on it.

Since August, the U.S. has been on China’s Zika list alongside Mexico, much of South America and some nations in Asia, which have all been required to fumigate containers destined for China’s ports.

U.S. exporters have gotten conflicting information from Chinese customs officials so far, The Wall Street Journal reported, and the lack of clarity on the requirements for their containers could result in delays or lost business—not to mention added cost.

According to the Journal, costs to fumigate one container can run an exporter between $100 and $200.

Countries on China’s Zika-inflicted list have had to fumigate all of their containers, but the confusion lies in whether those containers should be fumigated on their way out of the country or on arrival into China as some ports are expecting the former, others the latter.

Even states where Zika cases are nearly nil are facing the fumigation costs and small and medium size exporters will be hit the hardest because of it.

One exporter, Columbia Seeds, told the Journal the fumigation costs would be a “significant expense” and one that can’t be passed on to customers because of existing contracts.

A couple of Brazilian exporters that ship coffee and spices to China said their containers were stuck in a Shanghai port for a week because their fumigation certificates weren’t accepted. One said five of his 13 containers were sprayed with a pesticide that rendered the coffee unsellable, according to the Journal.

China Customs has not commented on the situation, but Maersk said for now it isn’t worried about cargo delays and it will look into the specifics of the fumigation rules.

Twenty-nine people have so far reported contracting Zika within the U.S., and all 29 of them are in Florida. But those who have contracted the virus through travel have brought it back to the country and at least one case has been reported in every state as of Wednesday, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).