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-July 3, 2007


Global Supply Chain: Will Product Safety Issues Create Need for an “Import Czar?"


Senator Chuck Schumer says Chinese Goods Putting U.S. Consumers at Risk; Protectionism by Other Means?


By SCDigest Editorial Staff


After a series of safety incidents related to food and pet food products from China, plus other research showing potential issues with Chinese imports (See Will Safety Issues with Toys Made in China Cause Regulatory Backlash?), influential U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer from New York is saying the country may need a full time “imports czar” to oversee safety regulations on offshored goods.

"China has no system of inspecting goods" before they're exported, Schumer said. "The collapse of our product-safety-inspection agencies is a tragedy waiting to happen."

Last week, in just the latest in what appears to be a series of incidents, safety concerns arose over automobile tires imported from China (see Chinese Import Tires May Fail at Highway Speeds). As a result of these incidents, concerns over Chinese imports are ratcheting up.

Whether the percentage of faulty or potentially dangerous products coming from China is actually any greater than domestically produced goods is open to question, though it also seems clear current Chinese manufacturing processes, regulatory standards and enforcement are still immature versus the state of affairs in most Western nations and Japan.

Sen. Schumer has also been an important critic of offshoring generally, and China specifically. He recently co-sponsored a Senate bill that calls for trade penalties against China for allegedly manipulating its currency to favor its exports.

"The purpose of this legislation is to force change," Schumer recently said.

In the absence of much concern over Chinese imports from U.S. consumers, happy with low prices even if there is a negative impact on employment (See Have Distorted Statistics Understated the Negative Impact of Offshoring and US Manufacturing Competitiveness?), Supply Chain Digest suspects Schumer may see the safety issue as another path to the same goal – reduce the level of Chinese imports, one perhaps more likely to capture voter attention.

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