Fashion Intel & Analysis

The Consumer Product Safety Commission will hold the third consumer product safety summit in China from October 21 to October 26 in Wuxi, Jinhua and Beijing. The summit is held every two years, and the 2007 summit focused on ending the use of lead paint on toys and dealing with the many recalls of Chinese goods that were beginning to escalate then.


            CPSC said next month’s summit will focus on “emphasizing the need for commitment to a more comprehensive approach to product safety.” Specifically, it said CPSC and China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) would try to develop a systemic approach to preventing and identifying defecting products from the early stage of product design to final use of the product by consumers. It also said the two sides would explore regulatory and voluntary steps that could be taken to ensure product safety. CPSC said items to be discussed include toys, lead in children’s products, all terrain vehicles, lighters, and fireworks.


            CPSC said that industry stakeholders are invited to join the talks and will be considered for participation if they indicate their interest by September 16.

Concurrent with implementation of the amendments to the Lacey Act, in which the United States is asserting the right to enforce foreign laws addressing illegal logging, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on Thursday announced the start of new talks with Indonesia and Malaysia aimed at the promotion of legal forest products trade.  The talks this week are the first round of sessions that will convene two or three times each year.  Delegates from Australia, Brunei, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Solomon Islands, and Vietnam also joined this week’s talks in Jakarta, Indonesia.  The U.S. delegation was led by USTR but includes members of the departments of State, Agriculture, Justice and Homeland Security, and the Agency for International Development.

Importers have won at least a temporary victory in their effort to minimize trade disruption caused by new reporting requirements under the Lacey Act. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will announce in a Federal Register notice tomorrow that it is delaying the implementation of several new Lacey Act requirements – this includes a delay of at least one year before importers have to declare the specific origins of particleboard, fiberboard, and wood packaging materials that accompany goods sent to the U.S.


The Lacey Act as amended in 2008 expanded the number of protected plants and plant products that are banned from U.S. entry. Applying the law to particleboard, fiberboard and wood packaging materials in particular has been controversial, since importers argue that it is difficult or impossible to determine the exact species used in these materials. This, in turn, makes it difficult or impossible for importers to submit accurate declarations when these goods enter the U.S.


Without APHIS’s decision, importers would have been required to begin the arduous process of submitting declarations under the Lacey Act for these materials starting this October.


In addition, the announcement says APHIS is seeking comment on how to handle these and a range of other controversial items, and that these goods are “currently under consideration for subsequent phases that would be scheduled to begin on or after September 1, 2010.” This is a sign that there is still discussion to be had on how feasible it is for the trade to offer this information.

The Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration tomorrow will publish notices giving companies 30 days to ask for a tariff rate quota allocation for imported worsted wool fabrics. In two separate notices, Commerce will ask companies that cut and sew men’s and boys’ worsted wool suits, suit-type jackets and trousers in the U.S. to apply for quota, and will also ask companies that weave worsted wool fabrics to apply for quota as well.


            The quotas were established under the Trade and Development Act of 2000, but have been extended and expanded several times since then. The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 extended the quotas until 2014, and in 2004, the combined quota for worsted wool fabric (HTS 9902.51.11 and 9902.51.11

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is expected to have in place by early 2010 a rule that would formally declare drawstrings a “substantial product hazard,”  due to the strangulation threat they pose for children.  The result would be that imports of children’s upper body garments with drawstrings would be inadmissible. 


CPSC staff said in an open meeting held yesterday that the rule, permitted by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), should be completed by January or February at the latest.


            The CPSIA allows the Commission to declare a product to be a “substantial product hazard,” if the product is covered by voluntary standards that are generally followed by industry.  In this way, the law allows CPSC to regulate products beyond those that are covered by mandatory product standards.  Designated items can be denied entry into the U.S. and destroyed. 


            CPSC staff said they are about “three-quarters of the way” toward completing the ruling on drawstring clothing (as well as a ruling on hair dryers that pose a risk of electrocution). Staff is also considering listing certain holiday lights as a third substantial product hazard.


            CPSC Chairwoman Inez Tenenbaum and Commissioner Robert Adler were supportive of the effort at the hearing. Both said the CPSIA language seems to resolve how to handle hazardous products that have been identified as hazardous for several years.  Children’s apparel containing drawstrings have been the subject of repeated recalls in the last year or more.


            At the same meeting, commissioners appeared to provide assurance that children’s clothing or blankets would not be subject to the CPSIA requirement that durable infant or toddler products must be sold with product registration cards that make it easier to contact consumers in the event of a recall. CPSC staff told commissioners that they believe the law is written in a way that would allow the commission to expand the list of products covered by this rule. In an apparent effort to clarify that durability has its limits, Commissioner Adler then queried whether children’s clothing and blankets might be considered “durable.” Commissioner Anne Northup and CPSC legal staff responded that they think these items could not be included because Congress intended the product registration card requirement to cover durable goods such as furniture.