The Interagency Working Group on Import Safety, a committee charged with identifying actions to improve the safety of imported products, on September 10 delivered its initial recommendations to President Bush.

 

Established by presidential executive order in July, the Working Group is chaired by Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt and is comprised of senior officials from the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Commerce, the U.S. Trade Representative, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and other agencies.

 

The Working Group’s report details preliminary recommendations and strategies that build upon existing efforts to improve import safety while facilitating trade. A follow-up report, to be released in mid-November, will lay down short- and long-term action plans.

 

Approximately $2 trillion in products were imported into the U.S. in 2006. By 2015, this number is expected to triple. The increasing volume of imports, the Working Group says, creates an urgent need for a strategic import safety framework that considers a product’s life cycle, and focuses resources on minimizing the likelihood of unsafe products reaching U.S. borders.

 

The Working Group’s risk-based model is founded on the principles of prevention, intervention, and response. A major component of the framework includes identifying opportunities for increased cooperation with foreign governments and manufacturers, importers, and others to ensure that the private sector takes a leading role in strengthening the safety of imports.

 

The Working Group also calls for the U.S. government to partner with the private sector to implement preventive approaches that builds safety into manufacturing and distribution processes. Third-party certifications and testing requirements were identified as key components to this initiative.

 

To help stem the tide of unsafe consumer products entering the nation, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) will convene Building Consumer Confidence on September 26 in Washington, D.C. The objective of the one-day open forum is to boost confidence in consumer product safety by leveraging private-sector solutions as the core component of any new or ongoing public-private initiatives. The event is open to all stakeholders, including consumers and consumer representatives, government legislative and regulatory bodies, industry, standards developing organizations, certification organizations, the media, and other interested parties. For more information or to register, please visit the event website.