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EU-China team up on non-food products
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China is creating a national rapid alert system for non-food products (RAPEX) to enhance EU-China information exchange and the seizure of substandard consumer products.

The local system will interlink with the European Union system, a top Chinese quality control official said yesterday.

"With the new system we will be able to distribute information to our 35 provincial bureaus nationwide in real time. And if the local offices have any information, they can immediately respond to the Beijing headquarters," Li Changjiang, head of the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), said.

The system will also greatly facilitate the exchange of product quality information with the EU and help solve problems between the two sides, Li said.

He made the remarks after meeting with the visiting EU Consumer Protection Commissioner Meglena Kuneva in Beijing.

Li also proposed that talks on the RAPEX systems should start immediately

In January of last year, the two sides signed a cooperation agreement giving China access to RAPEX.

"The most prominent success of EU-China cooperation last year was the RAPEX system," Li said. "The system will play a very important role in protecting and tracing Chinese unsafe products."

China is the EU's second-largest trading partner.

Last year, there were 2.7 million consignments of exports from China to the EU.

"The Chinese government always attaches top importance to product safety. We demand producers correct their mistakes, and improve to meet EU standards. Otherwise, they will not be eligible to export," Li said

As product safety is a global issue, imports from the developed countries to China also have problems, such as those from the United States, Japan, and the EU.

Statistics show that just over 1 percent of imports from the EU failed to meet Chinese quality standards last year.

The products included home appliances, automobile parts, and chemicals.

During the Beijing Olympics, product and food safety for athletes will be highly safeguarded, Li said.

"We have a high sense of responsibility, and we will do what we can to insure product safety of the Games," he said.

Kuneva said: "Over the past few years, cooperation between the EU and China on product safety has intensified.

"We are making progress toward a safer international market, to the benefit of both European and Chinese citizens."

(China Daily April 25, 2008)

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