Unsafe Chinese cosmetics still a worry, says EU official

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Product safety, International trade, China

The EU will not compromise on the safety of Chinese exports and
will continue to monitor the market even though the country is
making efforts to combat the problem, according to an EU official.

EU consumer commissioner Meglena Kuneva has been visiting China this week to discuss consumer product safety and future cooperation, and noted that cosmetics would remain a product group to watch in the future. EU will still watch the market ​ The safety of Chinese exports is high on the agenda as China is the origin of over 50 per cent of notified goods, of which a significant proportion are cosmetics products, according to the EU RAPEX alert system. "The EU cannot and will not compromise on safety. 2007 was marked by a summer of recalls, that has led to a winter of evaluation and a spring and summer of change,"​ said Kuneva in a statement, who will spend the week exploring ways to fully exploit the benefits of the EU-China product safety systems that are currently in place. Kuneva recognised that China has made significant inroads into the problem of product safety since the issue came to the fore with a number of toxic toys and toothpaste scares last year. Although emphasising the willingness of the EU to trade with China she said that safety still remained of utmost importance. "But we need to make one even more stronger statement -- that we will not compromise on safety​," she told reporters in Beijing after meeting the head of China's national quality watchdog, Li Changjiang. "What I can promise you and make as a commitment is that we will continue to watch the market. We are watching and surveying our markets and this is not the end of the game,"​ she said, highlighting toys, electrical goods and cosmetics as particularly worrisome areas. Chinacannot do it alone ​ China has not been inactive on the issue of product safety however many officials have highlighted the need for help and collaboration from the international community in order to achieve these aims. During the US-China trade talks in December last year the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN) warned that trade agreements on product safety would not be sufficient to stem the tide of toxic goods. Commentators said the speed of economic growth in China coupled with the absence of established legal structures cast doubt on the government's ability to guarantee the safety of products that leave its multi-layered supply chain. "Getting adequate regulatory systems in China will take years, especially at the furthest reaches of the many-layers-deep Chinese supply chain,"​ said IEHN director Richard Liroff.

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