U.S. and Chinese Government Product Safety Agencies Sign Joint Safety Agreement to Improve the Safety of Imported Toys and Other Consumer Products

September 13, 2007

On September 11, 2007, Frost Brown Todd LLC attorneys Joseph Walker and Erika Schoenberger attended the second biannual Sino-US Consumer Product Safety Summit in Washington, D.C.  At the summit, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) announced a joint agreement to improve quality control of products manufactured in China and exported to the U.S.  The agreement affirmed the two agencies’ commitment to ensuring consumer product safety and training of Chinese suppliers. 

Additionally, the AQSIQ agreed to take immediate action to eliminate the use of lead paint on Chinese manufactured toys exported to the United States.  The use of lead paint on toys sold in the U.S. was banned in 1978. Concerns over lead paint on Chinese imported toys have heightened in the wake of recent toy recalls.  Currently, China manufactures approximately 80% of the toys sold in the U.S.  

Acting CPSC Chairman Nancy Nord stated, “This is an important signal from the Chinese government that it is serious about working with CPSC to keep dangerous products out of American homes.  We will be looking for meaningful cooperation on the ground – that means not just with the Chinese government, but also with industry at both end of the supply chain.”

CPSC and AQSIQ also announced a joint-initiative to improve quality control in four specific product categories: Toys, Fireworks, Multipurpose Lighters, and Electrical Products.  CPSC and AQSIQ agreed to actively work together to improve (1) the training of Chinese manufacturers and suppliers, (2) the dissemination of information regarding U.S. regulations and expectations, (3) recall notification and follow-up procedures, (4) the adequate exchange of technical information, (5) inspection protocol for both raw materials and finished products, and (6) the use of reliable certification procedures.  The two agencies will review the work plans’ effectiveness within one year to identify possible areas for improvement.     

Industry leaders, including high-ranking executives from Mattel, Underwriters Laborites, Inc., and Wal-Mart, headed a industry business panel following the announcement and execution of the joint agreement.  The panel discussed initiatives to improve and refine existing quality control procedures for products manufactured in China and the rest of the world.  Specifically, the panel focused on the value of third-party certification, product check systems at all intervals of the manufacturing process (e.g., testing both raw materials, production and finished products for compliance with U.S. standards), and improved training for their Chinese suppliers.

Look for further client advisories by Frost Brown Todd LLC as we continue to monitor legal and business developments related to consumer protection safety.