2007-07-02

Is the US starting to use technical and quality standards as a trade barrier against Chinese exports?

- U.S corporations scrutinize their imports from China (Nelson Schwartz, IHT, 1/7/07)

General Mills, Kellogg, Toys "R" Us and other big U.S. companies are increasing their scrutiny of thousands of everyday products they receive from Chinese suppliers, as widening recalls of items like toys and toothpaste force them to focus on potential hazards that were overlooked in the past.

See also:

- Seafood ban latest threat to China's reputation in U.S. (Chicago Tribune, 1/7/07)
- Importing Danger (Hartford Courant, 1/7/07)

Is the US starting to use technical and quality standards as a trade barrier against Chinese exports? Well, yes and no. The US has long been using technical and quality standards as a trade barrier against Chinese exports, if "US" stands for American manufacturers and trade officials. However, US importers have always been sourcing from Chinese factories, while US consumers seem to like what they see on the price tags.

The deadly pet food incident proves to be a tipping point, prompting American consumers to re-think what "Made in China" actually means. As in the case of Hong Kong consumers, all these negative revelations definitely would not lead to American consumers stop buying Chinese products all together. Instead, they would plant a thought in their mind: Chinese products are cheap, but probably nasty too.

I dare say that even the more well-off Chinese consumers are beginning to think in the same way regarding products from their own country.