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May 29, 2008

Your baby should put poison in her mouth

... or at least that's the message from the Bush administration this week, according to Inside U.S. Trade:

The Bush Administration sent a letter to House and Senate conferees on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reform bill, H.R. 4040, raising some new objections to both bills but also repeating its long-standing objections to many aspects of the Senate bill....

Image_preview The administration objects to Section 44 of the Senate bill, which it said would cause complaints from trading partners. According to the letter, this part of the bill requires CPSC to prohibit toy imports from manufacturers with a “persistent pattern” of producing toys with substantial safety hazards, while there is no such similar measure taken for domestic manufacturers in the same circumstances. Within the World Trade Organization, members have committed to subjecting imports to the same treatment as domestic products.

The administration also has similar objections to Section 38c of the Senate bill, which allows imports to be refused at the border if they fail to meet inspection and record keeping requirements.

These sections “could prompt complaints from U.S. trading partners and could encourage trading partners to adopt similarly restrictive measures against U.S. exports,” the letter states.

The insidious thing about WTO rules is that 1) they give neoliberal governments the excuse of the neoliberal straightjacket to refuse to take action; and 2) they actually prohibit common sense approaches to policy problems.

For instance, in this case, there's a lot we don't make anymore in these here states, not least of which is toys, as we showed in last year's report. What we do make here, gets multiple levels of regulation. We only have one bite at the apple, so to speak, when it comes to imports. It would make sense for regulators to be able to take action at the border, but instead are subjected to bizarre standards to subject non-existent domestic toy-makers to an additional level of regulatory scrutiny from what they already face (which is not high enough, but is many times higher than what imports face along the supply chain from China).

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