NAFTA Members Cooperate on Consumer Product Safety

— March 19, 2012

As consumer product health and safety concerns are increasingly reflected in the practices of global brands, the United States, Canada and Mexico are making a concerted effort to eliminate the use of toxic materials in the footwear and apparel industries. The three countries have thus reached an understanding on actions needed to strengthen their trilateral cooperation for the safety of consumers.

The California law, Proposition 65, has been around since 1986. Known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, it lists more than 850 chemicals that are believed to have the potential for harm, including causing cancer and birth defects.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 reauthorized the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for the years 2010 - 2014, expanding the Commission's role in ensuring the safety of consumer products.

Joining the party are California's Green Chemistry law, the Washington State Law on Chemicals in Children's products and the proposed laws of Maine and Minnesota. Not to be outdone, the Canadian government passed the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act in June 2011, restricting the use of lead and phthalates in children's products. The First North America Consumer Product Safety Summit was held at the CPSC Headquarters in Bethesda, Md., in September 2011, where representatives from the consumer product safety agencies of the NAFTA countries of the United States, Canada, and Mexico met to discuss the coordination and promotion of safety in products manufactured and sold across the region.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (US CPSC), the Mexican Federal Consumer Protection Agency (Profeco), and Health Canada have agreed to strengthen trilateral cooperation, with respect for sovereignty combined with paramount concern for the safety of consumers. According to the summit's joint statement, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Health Canada and the Consumer Protection Federal Agency of Mexico (Profeco) have agreed on a framework of cooperative engagement, enabling engagement in six key areas, including the consultation on proposed regulations and voluntary standards, cooperation on risk assessment, cooperation on import and market surveillance, cooperation on training and outreach both within and outside of North America, coordination of consumer awareness campaigns, and consultation on potential joint recalls and other corrective actions.

Mexico and Canada's borders with the United States means that products manufactured from outside NAFTA can easily move from one country into another. Third party service providers can help supply information on regulation affecting the region.

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