CPSC Touts Product Safety Pact with VietnamMar 11, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
Vietnam and the US have reached an important milestone regarding import safety. Today, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced an agreement with the Vietnamese government aimed at improving consumer product safety on items exported to the U.S. from Vietnam. At the same time, CPSC officials are visiting Hanoi to meet with their government counterparts in Vietnam and are conducting product safety training for Vietnamese exporters of consumer products.
The agreement between the CPSC and the Directorate for Standards and Quality (STAMEQ) of the Ministry of Science and Technology mandates information and technical exchanges to implement the consumer safety programs. “Vietnam has become an increasingly important trading partner with the United States,” said Acting Chairman Nancy Nord adding, “Working with industry and directly with government agencies in other countries, such as Vietnam, is one of the most effective ways to ensure the safety of products made abroad and intended for U.S. store shelves.”
“Vietnam understands the importance of protecting the safety of consumers,” said Dr. Ngo Quy Viet, Director General of STAMEQ. “Therefore, Vietnam welcomes collaboration with foreign partners, especially with those that have such an effective safety system as the United States, to improve consumer and importer confidence.”
The number of imports from Vietnam to the U.S. has increased significantly in recent years and, according to U.S. International Trade Commission data, around $8.6 billion worth of products under CPSC jurisdiction were imported to the United States from Vietnam in 2007. This represents a 31 percent increase from 2006. The CPSC also has signed agreements with Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, the European Commission, Egypt, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Peru and Taiwan to improve the safety of consumer products.
Under a new agreement—allowing U.S. inspectors access to Chinese factories and ensuring Chinese manufacturers continued access to the U.S. market—Chinese exporters will register with the Chinese government and agree to annual inspections by China's office of General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine; enforcement will be at the discretion of the Chinese.
Millions of toys made in China were recalled last year mainly because of excessive lead paint levels. Also, late last year, China officials seized thousands of tainted products and put many unregulated shops out of business. Scandals involving substandard food, drugs, and other goods are reported by Chinese media almost daily and have flooded the international market. Inspectors pulled 29,800 products from the shelves and 100% of stores in larger towns and cities now have a quality-label system in place allowing them to trace products back to suppliers.
Early this year, China's food and drug safety agency revoked the license of a company responsible for making tainted leukemia drugs that caused leg pains and partial paralysis in dozens of patients. According to the agency, Shanghai Hualian executives were detained by police on suspicion they deliberately withheld information about production standard violations; the investigation was one of many involving contaminated or bogus drugs and foods. Also this year, there have been substantial problems with the Chinese manufacturing of a product critical to the blood thinner, heparin, which has been linked to 21 deaths and hundreds of adverse reactions in the United States.