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China Promises EU Regular Reports on Product Investigations


The European Union's head of consumer safety says China has promised to "strictly" provide regular reports on how it handles European complaints about dangerous products. China has so far failed to live up to earlier similar promises and faces complaints from around the world about unsafe products. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

The European Union Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Meglena Kuneva, told reporters Tuesday that Chinese officials have said they will follow through on their agreement to provide quarterly reports on investigations into dangerous Chinese products exported to the EU.

"I received a political commitment of the highest level. And, I will watch how this political commitment will be translated into practice," Kuneva said.

Kuneva says China is obliged by a memorandum of understanding, signed with the EU in early 2006, to fully investigate EU complaints of unsafe Chinese products and to provide a summary of enforcement efforts in quarterly reports. However, in the last year, she said, China has provided only two reports.

"The first report was very poor in respect of tracking down, the second was better but still not sufficient. That's why I'm here," she said.

Half of all unsafe exports last year to the EU came from China. The EU is China's largest trading partner and one in four products imported to the EU come from China.

But those products include children's toys with high lead or chemical content or small parts that posed a choking hazard, batteries that may explode and lamps that could electrocute.

China is under pressure to better enforce product safety standards after a series of revelations about tainted and deadly exports.

Chinese officials last week announced the closure of a company that exported mislabeled chemicals that were used in cough syrup in Panama, resulting in the deaths of dozens of people there in the last year.

Two other companies were closed for using toxic chemicals in pet food ingredients believed to have killed hundreds of dogs and cats in North America earlier this year.

The United States has refused exports of Chinese farm-raised fish and seafood after drugs banned in the U.S. were found in shipments.

Chinese officials acknowledge some Chinese companies are responsible for unsafe exports, but insist the vast majority of products are safe.

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