Statement from Acting Chairman Nancy Nord on Chinese Government Findings about Unsafe Children’s Products

May 29, 2009

As reported in Chinese state media, the Chinese government has publicly acknowledged that certain children’s products, specifically clothing and furniture, fail when tested against established product safety standards. In contrast, the failure rate for toys was significantly lower. The report in yesterday’s China Daily included a very frank statement by a Chinese government spokesperson noting that many of the products tested contained false information about raw materials and showed product safety failures. I want to comment on the impact of this report for U.S. consumers.

For the past several years, and long before the release of this official Chinese government statement, CPSC has been implementing a multi-pronged approach to improving the safety of U.S. imported consumer products. During my three year tenure as Acting Chairman, we have taken important actions to strengthen our Agency’s efforts to safeguard imports. Focusing especially on toys, in 2007 we convened a high level summit with our counterpart agency to put in place a process for dealing with recalls of Chinese products and we hold regular meetings to discuss the results of Chinese government efforts to investigate recalled products. In 2008, at my suggestion, we held the first joint U.S.-EU-China safety seminar in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai to further educate Chinese government officials and manufacturers about the importance of U.S. safety standards. As a follow up to this activity, we hold regular training sessions with Chinese manufacturers to educate them about U.S. safety requirements. Our CPSC web site now has a Chinese language section with audio-visuals, product safety handbooks, and various guidelines to help Chinese manufacturers get it right.

We have reorganized and upgraded our international office and made it a central part of our Agency’s activities. We are establishing a CPSC Product Safety office in Beijing and are currently hiring for it, now that we have received funding to support it. As part of our emphasis on the global aspect of product safety, we have established an import surveillance division, which we are currently expanding in our ports. We have established a new, more productive relationship with Customs to jointly and cooperatively address concerns about imports. We just signed a lease for a brand new modern laboratory which will greatly increase the scientific support and testing needed to enhance our import inspections.

We have reorganized and upgraded our international office and made it a central part of our Agency’s activities. We are establishing a CPSC Product Safety office in Beijing and are currently hiring for it, now that we have received funding to support it. As part of our emphasis on the global aspect of product safety, we have established an import surveillance division, which we are currently expanding in our ports. We have established a new, more productive relationship with Customs to jointly and cooperatively address concerns about imports. We just signed a lease for a brand new modern laboratory which will greatly increase the scientific support and testing needed to enhance our import inspections.

We recognize that encouraging product safety is an ongoing process and we are actively engaged with Chinese producers and the Chinese government to build product safety into the production chain. In this effort, it is a very positive sign that the Chinese government itself has released significant information that is critical of its own producers. This openness demonstrates the Chinese government’s willingness to confront the challenge of improving manufacturing practices and product safety compliance and that step should be applauded. Chinese manufacturers who want to export to the United States must put safety first. CPSC is committed to working with China to make this happen.

I look forward to additional opportunities that lead to improving the safety of Chinese products headed to our shores. In particular, our upcoming U.S.-Sino Product Safety Summit, now scheduled to occur in October, will provide a strong venue to better protect the American consumer.