Trade Policy & Product Safety… Tit for Tat

Monday, June 11, 2007 1:55
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When the news first began to break that dogs and cats across America were getting sick from pet food made in China… I already knew what was coming.

and when articles began appearing in the popular press questioning “China’s” role in this, my fears were confirmed.

For me, supplier quality issues are always a problem.. and anyone in sourcing/ manufacturer takes on a firefighting/ crime prevention role. Projects always start off with a “what could go wrong” session, multiple suppliers are qualified “just in case”, and then the monitoring begins.

When something goes wrong there are only two reasons: (1) Our system for ensuring quality was not as sound as we thought it was or (2) we did not follow through.

It is not ALWAYS the suppliers fault

and it certainly isn’t China’s

The problem with this recent issue is that rather than focusing on the actors who were at fault (Chinese supplier,Chinese manufacturer, American buyer)… politics was allowed to enter the picture.

Industry groups who have seen jobs offshored, government agencies that have failed to address economic issues, and other organizations that have not achieved their goals otherwise all jumped on the bandwagon and turned a case of poor quality management into don’t buy anything Chinese goods.. because YOU NEVER KNOW…

In response, China publicly rejected a shipment of Evian… then the U.S. FDA publicly told everyone to throw away toothpaste made in China… then ATVs… and now, Chinese authorities have publicly rejected U.S. raisins and health supplements… getting the picture?

Were there a orchestrated effort by one government to supply tainted pet food, then politics can enter… but until then, it is a business issue plain and simple where a supply chain has been corrupted in some way and all parties need to work through the problems (potentially with the assistance of FDA or SFDA) .

Protecting citizens from harmful products is one of its critical roles. The U.S. has the FDA, China has the SFDA – State Food and Drug Administration, and there are a host of other groups like customs who support this role…. but by using the pet food as a political tool does little if anything to cure address the real issues..

And now it appears we are entering a phase of tit for tat public displays of poor quality products that are meant to do little more than sway public opinion through article titles like China goes on the offensive, singles out U.S. products that don’t ‘meet sanitary standards

For companies manufacturing in China, the recent politics could impact your bottom line as U.S. consumers grow wary of that Made in China sticker. IT won’t matter if your products are made in a wholly owned factory, or that your equipment was made in America, or that your management team is 100% expat.. all that will matter is that you manufacture in China, and your products may be unsafe..

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