China set to improve goods reports to EU

By Andrew London and Zhu Zhe (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-25 06:52

China has agreed to provide the European Union with detailed quarterly reports to prove it is dealing with complaints about potentially dangerous consumer product exports.

Europe, the country's top export market, has been rattled by a series of defective product alerts that have strained consumer confidence.

Visiting European Union Consumer Protection Commissioner Meglena Kuneva yesterday urged China to take stronger action against companies making defective or unsafe products.

The commissioner's talks with Chinese officials in recent days have also covered food safety.

China has taken steps to restore international confidence in its products by closing in on suppliers of substandard food and other products, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) has said.

However, Kuneva said more needs to be done and that even a 1 percent product defect rate was not good enough.

"All goods coming onto the European market will be treated the same," she said.

About half of the defective goods exported to Europe originated from China, the commissioner said.

Kuneva said she had had a "frank and constructive" dialogue with Chinese authorities, including AQSIQ Minister Li Chiangjiang.

The EU wants China's first report on "prevention and follow-up actions" to European alerts about unsafe exports by October, ahead of a meeting the following month between EU President Jose Manuel Barroso and Premier Wen Jiabao.

The EU said Chinese authorities had privileged access to its RAPEX rapid alert system, enabling them to track the source of a problematic product through the supply chain.

A 2006 agreement between the two sides stated that China would provide quarterly progress reports on the results of its investigations into defective product alerts.

However, the two reports issued so far have not been up to standard, Kuneva said.

"The first report was very poor in respect of tracking down. The second was better but still not sufficient," she said.

Wang Xin, the director of the supervision and inspection department of the AQISQ said that although China had already handed reports over to the EU, it would "streamline" the process to make them more standardized and detailed.

Li previously said no country in the world could guarantee 100 percent food safety, though China would "squarely face the problems and enhance supervision, especially over small food processing plants".

(China Daily 07/25/2007 page3)

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