China, the European Union and the United States convened their first trilateral summit on product safety on Monday, vowing close cooperation on the issue.
The meeting was attended by EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva, chairperson of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission Nancy Nord and the vice minister of China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), Wei Chuanzhong.
The three parties signed a joint statement and agreed on priority action areas, which include product traceability, cooperation on toy safety standards, expertise exchange and joint enforcement actions.
Discussion among the three parties also focused on action to strengthen information exchange on alerts and recalls -- in particular using new US product safety legislation, which will allow more open information exchange on product recalls and dangerous products.
The meeting is aimed at protecting the interests of consumers, Wei said at a joint press conference following the talks.
The result is "a new beginning" for trilateral cooperation based on bilateral cooperation, and a "new era" in safeguarding consumer goods safety among China, the EU and the United States, he said.
Wei told reporters that the joint statement, which will facilitate cooperation and exchanges among the three entities on consumer goods safety, sets "a good example" to the world and is a "significant contribution" to safeguarding product safety in international trade.
Kuneva stressed that the meeting sends "a very clear signal" about the determination of leaders in Europe, China and the United States to put the safety of citizens first.
"We are strongly in favor of open and competitive markets, with all the benefits in terms of price and choice they bring for millions of consumers, but never at the expense of safety," she added.
Earlier in the day, the EU and China signed a renewed and extended Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will strengthen cooperation on product safety controls.
The document, which was first signed in 2006, upgrades the existing RAPEX-China system (Rapid Alert System for dangerous goods) including clear obligations for quarterly reporting on enforcement actions to track down dangerous goods.
The upgraded MoU will provide China, for the first time, with immediate access to the EU's Rapid Alert System for Feed and Food, and, in particular, to the system's notifications that concern China.
(Xinhua News Agency November 18, 2008)