The United States will press China to do more to ensure the safety of its exports at a regional summit meeting in Sydney, US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said.
“I can assure you it will be on the agenda,” Gutierrez said in a call with the President’s Export Council, an advisory group made up of top US industry officials and members of Congress and the Bush administration.
President George W. Bush and other leaders of the 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum will hold their annual meeting Sept. 7-9 in Sydney.
The White House has already begun to review US import inspection procedures in response to growing concerns about the safety of goods from China. Mattel Inc. has recalled millions of Chinese-made toys, including 436,000 die-cast cars, because their paint may have contained too much lead.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission ordered the recall of more than 300,000 more children’s products from China this week for the same reason.
Chinese officials insist that more than 99% of their goods meet safety standards and have accused the United States and other importers of “a new kind of protectionism” by demonizing Chinese-made goods.
Gutierrez said the Bush administration was already working with China to make sure it has adequate procedures to ensure its products’ safety. “The quality has to be created in China. It can’t be inspected in,” Gutierrez said.
The United States also wants to “make sure that all products that come into the country have a tracking system just in case they have to be recalled,” he said.
During the call, members of the President’s Export Council approved a letter urging Bush to use the APEC meeting to push for a successful end to world trade talks after nearly six years of sputtering negotiations.
It also urged Bush to explore the possibility of crafting a free trade zone within the Asia Pacific region, as both an alternative and stimulus to the world trade talks. Many experts believe those negotiations could go into hibernation for years if a deal is not reached soon.
The export council letter also called for action on other trade priorities for the Asia Pacific region, including increased protection of intellectual property rights and more market openings for financial services firms. (Reuters)