U.S., China to enhance cooperation on consumer product safety

08:20, January 11, 2011      

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The United States will enhance cooperation with China on consumer safety to avoid product recalls, a U.S. official said Monday in Beijing.

"It is very important we maintain a good relationship with the AQSIQ (China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine), as well as have a proactive approach in working with the Chinese government and Chinese manufacturers," U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Chairperson Inez Tenenbaum told reporters.

Tenenbaum said China was very important for the United States, as 45 percent of all consumer products and 90 percent of all toys sold in the United States came from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong.

Instead of just issuing recalls to enforce the standards in the United States, Tenenbaum said the CPSC would be more proactive to "reduce the number of recalls, keep our consumers safe, and also prevent the loss of revenue and damage to the brands of manufacturers."

The commission would establish its first overseas office in Beijing as it saw a "critical need" to let manufacturers and importers know the U.S. rules and standards on consumer product safety, Tenenbaum said.

"The office would work with the AQSIQ to be a resource to Chinese manufacturers in terms of our standards and requirements and go to the provinces to ensure they understand our requirements," Tenenbaum said.

Since 2009, the CPSC had established an office of education to cooperate with U.S. and Chinese universities in providing training for manufacturers and importers on U.S. consumer product safety standards in order to reduce recalls, Tenenbaum said.

"We provide training programs annually for Chinese manufacturers. We offered a training program in 2010 for over 150 manufacturers and they found it very interesting," Tenenbaum said.

"Small and big businesses should make sure they understand what our standards are," Tenenbaum said.

Manufacturers should carefully choose suppliers as some materials could contain heavy metals, such as lead, that are forbidden in the United States.

Despite the urgent need to enforce the safety of consumer products made in China, Tenenbaum said the quality of products from China had seen a "huge" improvement.

The number of the CPSC recalls of products from China dropped to 220 last year from 346 in 2008 and that of toys from China dropped to 44 last year from 172 in 2008, Tenenbaum said.

Tenenbaum, who took office in June 2009, is scheduled to meet with AQSIQ Minister Zhi Shuping while in China. She will also visit Hong Kong and Australia.

Jeff Hilsgen, who will be head of the CPSC office in Beijing, said the office would also enhance cooperation with the governments of Vietnam, Australia and Thailand.

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