spate of recent news over problems with
product safety and counterfeit goods, especially
Chinese imports, is spurring Congressional
action along a number of fronts.
weeks, these issues have been well publicized,
drawing increased consumer attention to
what has, to some extent, been primarily
a business-related concern. Concerns about
import product safety have at least briefly
reached center stage, rather than simply
piracy, about which consumers have not traditionally
shown much concern.
just the past couple of months, there were
significant safety issues with pet food
imported from China, a major report showing
Chinese imports were high on the list of
toys that had experienced safety recalls,
announced concerns over counterfeit toothpaste
that may have ingredients that could be
harmful to some consumers (See also Executive
View: Counterfeiting and Supply Chains;
Product Safety Issues Create Need for an
"Import Czar?"; Will
Safety Issues with Toys Made in China Cause
led to lots of action on Capitol Hill, and
is interesting because legislation will
likely have the support of both business
and labor groups.
new anti-piracy bill is being sponsored
in the Senate by Sen.
Evan Bayh (D, Indiana) and George Voinovich
(R, Ohio) that would require the administration
to submit a strategic plan to address counterfeiting,
including increasing resources and training
thousands of our businesspeople were being
held up at gunpoint in a foreign country,
if our laboratories and research facilities
were being raided and shut down by unidentified
individuals, there would be a sense of alarm.
That is, in effect, what is happening today,
and yet we are not doing nearly enough,"
said Sen. Bayh.
in the House and related proposals in both
chambers of Congress are expected. It has
the strong support of the US Chamber of
Commerce and other business groups, which
claim counterfeiting costs US
companies some $250 billion in lost sales.
The action is also supported by major labor
groups, though the issue is not real high
on labor’s priority list.
legislation, however, primarily deals with
just counterfeiting and privacy. It is gaining
traction in large part because of perceived
safety concerns over imports, which, with
some exceptions, are really a different
issue. For example, the contaminated pet
food and recalled toys weren’t counterfeit
products, they were legitimate products
with unsafe design or manufacturing practices.
and regulators have also been looking hard
at the safety issue, however, with a few
lately calling for creation of an “import
czar” that would enforce presumably
tightened safety requirements and inspections.