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China, US, EU to Cooperate on Consumer Product Safety in Cross-Border E-Commerce

Representatives from China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection & Quarantine (AQSIQ), the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the European Commission recently held the Fifth Consumer Product Safety Trilateral Summit. According to a joint press statement released after the summit, under the existing bilateral and trilateral cooperation frameworks, efforts will be made to strengthen cooperation in establishing a product safety supervision mechanism, with special emphasis on strengthening cooperation in the establishment of a consumer product safety supervision mechanism for cross-border e-commerce transactions. This joint safety supervision mechanism will cover the exchange of information about products sold online and offline as well as information regarding measures on disposal of hazardous products.

During the summit, AQSIQ vice minister Sun Dawei, US Consumer Product Safety Commission chairman Elliot F Kaye, and European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Vĕra Jourová exchanged views and information on further enhancing consumer product safety, especially with regard to consumer product safety in e-commerce including direct-to-consumer transactions.

Chen Qijun, Internet business manager of TUV Rheinland of Germany, said: “Cross-border online shopping is a form of fragmented international trade. Currently, cross-border e-commerce mainly takes two forms. Under the first form, mainland e-commerce websites carry out sourcing around the globe and store the goods at free trade zones. After the Circular on Tax Policies for Retail Import in Cross-Border E-Commerce was issued on 8 April this year, goods entering the country in this way are subject to import management under general trade. The second form is cross-border direct-to-consumer [transactions], whereby consumers buy foreign goods on their own and have the items sent to them in the mainland by mail. At present, supervision of the latter is non-existent.”

Chen pointed out that cross-border e-commerce does not cover online shopping alone. As the digital economy continues to develop and people’s demand increases, there is a possibility that e-payment, foreign currency exchange, online services such as telemedicine (for example, doctors living in the US giving online medical consultation to patients at hospitals in free trade zones) as well as auction, education and entertainment may be at risk of breaking the law. This has posed serious challenges to supervision.

The joint press statement also states that within the legal framework of the tripartite participants, efforts will continue to be made to enhance product safety information exchange and risk assessment information sharing between their respective regulatory bodies at the earliest possible time. In particular, the tripartite participants will join hands in discussing emerging technologies or new products that are developing at a fast pace. More efforts will be made to strengthen exchanges on consumer product safety regulations and policies, especially new policies, rules and major changes. Action will also be taken to enhance cooperation in managing the recall of defective consumer products. In the event that recalled products or hazardous products are found in one participating country/territory, reports on the sale of these products in the other two countries/territories must be made at once.

The tripartite participants also agreed that encouraging the active participation of consumer product stakeholders in preventing the sale of hazardous consumer products online and offline is very important to raising the level of consumer product safety.

For details of the Circular in Chinese, please see:

http://www.chinatax.gov.cn/n810341/n810755/c2044092/content.html

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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