business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Chinese government reportedly has agreed to begin the process of eliminating the use of lead paint on toys being shipped to the US, MarketWatch reports, as well as “to improve the safety of all toys, fireworks, cigarette lighters and electrical products” shipped from China to the US.

"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," said Nancy Nord, acting chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, in a statement. "We will be looking for meaningful cooperation on the ground -- that means not just with the Chinese government, but also with industry at both ends of the supply chain."

The announcement comes after a series of recalls of toys made in China that had too much lead paint, which can be a health hazard.

MarketWatch notes that the US Senate begins hearings today that will look into current toy safety standards to see if they are adequate, and that the Toy Industry Association (TIA) “supports federal requirements to make safety testing and inspection mandatory.” The TIA reportedly “is working with American National Standards Institute to develop standards to verify that products comply with U.S. safety standards, and to certify that laboratories are qualified to conduct testing.”
KC's View:
I received a note from an MNB user this morning who is in Beijing, China, attending an International Food Safety and Quality Control Conference and Expo that has been hosted and organized by the government there to, in the words of the invitation, “develop a safe food supply chain nationally; explore and share successful food safety experiences, research and technologies with foreign countries; and strengthen competitive capabilities of food import and export of Chinese companies in the international marketplace.”

This MNB user seems optimistic, writing, “It is interesting that it is the scientists and industry members that are driving change. The Chinese officials are saying all the correct things here, may be a sign things are moving in the right direction.”

I hope so. I would, however, note that the MarketWatch story is very specific about the fact that the Chinese government is responding to political and economic pressure by working to eliminate lead paint from toys shipped to the US…which leaves open the possibility that Chinese manufacturers may not be so exacting in terms of standards for toys shipped elsewhere.

But I suppose it is a start.