From 1997 through 2004, imports from China increased almost 300 percent. Despite a 2004 Memorandum of Understanding between that country and the United States on safety issues, the number of product seizures and recalls increased as well. In 2007, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a “China Program Plan: Strengthening Our Relationship to Make Imported Products Safer for America’s Consumers.”
When the third biennial U.S.-China Consumer Product Safety Summit concluded on Oct. 26, 2009, CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum issued a statement lauding the Chinese government’s responsiveness to U.S. concerns. He also issued a warning:
“We now expect companies to implement proven best practices, such as factoring misuse into design, strict controls on components and other inputs, and enough sampling and testing to ensure that all of the product coming off the line is safe for consumers. … Let me be clear, however, that employing best practices to ensure product safety is not only the manufacturer’s job. U.S. importers also have a major responsibility. They must take steps to ensure that U.S. safety requirements are built into their products at every step of the way, including at the very beginning of the process as the product’s design specifications are developed.
“In a world where markets are so interconnected, all parties in the global supply chain have responsibilities to their end customers, wherever they are.”