Import Safety

Import Safety: Regulatory Governance in the Global Economy

Cary Coglianese
Adam M. Finkel
David Zaring
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Import Safety
    Book Description:

    On World Food Day in October 2008, former president Bill Clinton finally accepted decade-old criticism directed at his administration's pursuit of free-trade deals with little regard for food safety, child labor, or workers' rights. "We all blew it, including me when I was president. We blew it. We were wrong to believe that food was like some other product in international trade." Clinton's public admission came at a time when consumers in the United States were hearing unsettling stories about contaminated food, toys, and medical products from China, and the first real calls were being made for more regulation of imported products.Import Safetycomes at a moment when public interest is engaged with the subject and the government is receptive to the idea of consumer protections that were not instituted when many of the Clinton era's free-trade pacts were drafted.

    Written by leading scholars and analysts, the chapters inImport Safetyprovide background and policy guidance on improving consumer safety in imported food, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and toys and other products aimed at children. Together, they consider whether policymakers should approach import safety issues through better funding of traditional interventions-such as regulatory oversight and product liability-or whether this problem poses a different kind of governance challenge, requiring wholly new methods.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0591-6
    Subjects: Political Science, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    Cary Coglianese
  4. Part I: Perspectives on the Problem
    • Chapter 1 Consumer Protection in an Era of Globalization
      (pp. 3-21)
      Cary Coglianese, Adam M. Finkel and David Zaring

      Society has long tolerated some risk in the products consumers buy, especially when the risks are understood to be inherent in the products’ use. By their very nature, for example, cigarettes and fat-laden desserts pose risks to consumers, and, although some car models may be more crashworthy than others, driving any automobile introduces a degree of risk. But when two identical products sit side by side on a shelf, and one of them might be deadly and the other benign, we have a recipe for serious public health problems as well as major economic consequences from diminishing consumer trust.


    • Chapter 2 The Other China Trade Deficit: Export Safety Problems and Responses
      (pp. 22-49)
      Jacques deLisle

      China has an export safety problem. And given China’s large and growing shares in international markets during a long era of reliably rising trade in consumer goods and food products, the world has a Chinese import safety problem or, more accurately, problems. The magnitude and complexity of these problems mean that legal and policy responses in China and abroad face daunting challenges and dim prospects. The most promising approaches are likely those that exploit and promote alignment among China’s economic and political interests, foreign firms’ concerns about liability and reputation, and improved export safety. Strategies with relatively good prospects also...

    • Chapter 3 Parochialism About the Safety of Imports
      (pp. 50-66)
      Jonathan Baron

      If we were all rational, our concern about risks would be in proportion to how much we can reduce their harm. We would take protective action, and ask government to take protective action to the extent to which the outcome is bad, the probability is high, the cost of protection is low, and the effectiveness of protection is high.

      A number of studies of risk perception make the point that risk perceptions are influenced by ideology, politics, and general anxiety levels of individuals, which, in turn, are affected by various demographic variables, such as sex (Slovic 1998). My own collaborative...

  5. Part II: International Trade Institutions
    • Chapter 4 Import Safety Regulation and International Trade
      (pp. 69-87)
      Tracey Epps and Michael J. Trebilcock

      In making regulatory decisions concerning import safety, governments not only have to take into consideration domestic costs and benefits, but must also consider whether their chosen measures are consistent with World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations. The risks of failing to comply with WTO rules are not trivial, due to procedures that allow member nations to request a panel to hear a complaint that another member nation (or any of its subgovernments) has violated obligations under international trade law. Nations found to have violated trade rules may ultimately be subject to significant tariffs imposed on their exports. Countries have proven willing...

    • Chapter 5 The Politics of Food Safety in the Age of Global Trade: The Codex Alimentarius Commission in the SPS Agreement of the WTO
      (pp. 88-109)
      Tim Büthe

      International trade in food increases real and imagined risks to food safety. These risks primarily arise either from noncompliance with existing food safety standards or from substantive differences in sanitary and related standards for agriculture or food processing industries, which may differ across countries in stringency or due to differences in the fundamental principles embodied in the standards (Ansell and Balsiger 2009; Ansell and Vogel 2006; Echols 2001; Levi et al. 2009; Pollack and Shaffer 2009).

      As noted in chapter 1, one way to deal with the governance issues that arise from cross-national differences in food safety standards is for...

    • Chapter 6 Import Safety Rules and Generic Drug Markets
      (pp. 110-128)
      Kevin Outterson

      President Woodrow Wilson decried secret diplomacy in the wake of the First World War and famously called for “open covenants of peace, openly arrived at” as the first of his Fourteen Points. Woodrow Wilson is studiously ignored today in global trade negotiations. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, democratic governments still negotiate thousand-page trade agreements in secret, without transparent accountability for the interests being represented. Complex rules—many that affect import safety and public health—are negotiated and implemented without resort to the kind of public notice and comment provisions that apply to many domestic lawmaking processes around the...

  6. Part III: Toward Smarter Regulation
    • Chapter 7 Forecasting Consumer Safety Violations and Violators
      (pp. 131-150)
      Richard Berk

      Responding to reports from China of infant formula contaminated with melamine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a health information advisory in September 2008 stating that there was no known threat of contamination in infant formula manufactured by companies complying with U.S. regulations. The FDA also stated that no companies selling infant formula in the United States were using milk-based ingredients from China but that, nevertheless, there would be ongoing testing of food items imported from China that could contain significant amounts of milk or milk proteins.

      The melamine incident is one illustration of the systematic oversight of...

    • Chapter 8 Risk-Based Regulation for Import Safety
      (pp. 151-170)
      Lorna Zach and Vicki Bier

      To deal adequately with import safety, we need to improve our ability to assess risks quantitatively throughout the life cycles of imported products, from the foreign point of production to the end use by consumers in the importing nation. This includes developing a better understanding of the sources of risk in exporting countries (as a basis for deploying limited monitoring, inspection, and interdiction resources, and prioritizing training and capacity-building efforts), as well as understanding which imported goods pose the greatest risk (as a basis for prioritizing inspection resources at the border). Such a risk-based approach would allow producers, importers, and...

    • Chapter 9 Solving the Problem of Scale: The European Approach to Import Safety and Security Concerns
      (pp. 171-190)
      Alberto Alemanno

      Regulation of import safety in the European Community (EC) involves, as is often the case in the European legal order, a complex interaction among a number of different actors within novel systems of supranational governance that are both relatively new and continuously evolving.¹ The European legislature, assisted by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), has established a set of mechanisms governed by a network of actors bound to participate in the construction of the Community. This embraces not only European bodies but also local authorities in addition to central institutions of the member states. This structure involves many layers of...

  7. Part IV: Leveraging the Private Sector
    • Chapter 10 Importers as Regulators: Product Safety in a Globalized World
      (pp. 193-214)
      Kenneth A. Bamberger and Andrew T. Guzman

      In the wake of recent scandals involving lead toys, toxic toothpaste, poisonous pet food, and other dangerous products, policy makers have proposed a variety of strategies that purport to address safety concerns. Though many of these proposals would have salutary effects on consumer product safety, they do not provide, either individually or collectively, a full solution to the problem. This chapter offers a different proposal for addressing the challenges that global production poses for state-centered regulation of import safety. We argue that regulators should structure administrative penalties to make private importers regulate the foreign manufacturing processes from which they benefit....

    • Chapter 11 Bonded Import Safety Warranties
      (pp. 215-232)
      Tom Baker

      Consumers increasingly confront serious safety risks from imported products. Contaminated heparin, adulterated pet food and candy, lead-painted toys, and lead-filled children’s jewelry are only some of the more vivid examples. U.S. and European regulators are working on ways to stimulate improvements in manufacturing and testing processes in source countries, but regulators in one country can only do so much to affect the health and safety practices of businesses located in another. With the expansion in international trade, the lengthening of the product supply chain, and the vast numbers of importers and exporters, government regulators in importing countries simply cannot solve...

    • Chapter 12 Private Import Safety Regulation and Transnational New Governance
      (pp. 233-254)
      Errol Meidinger

      The world is awash in complex systems of private regulation, many of which are highly innovative and dynamic. This chapter discusses the current and potential role of private regulatory systems in ensuring import safety. Using recent developments in food safety regulation as a primary example, it argues that private regulatory institutions can provide valuable control and learning capacities for an effective import safety regulatory system. However, significant institutional developments are needed to adequately take into account the full range of interests that must be accommodated in global production systems. Safety regulation is currently spread out among a large number of...

  8. Part V: The Way Forward
    • Chapter 13 Delegated Governance: Consumer Safety in the Global Marketplace
      (pp. 257-272)
      David Zaring and Cary Coglianese

      As the world’s consumers increasingly enjoy the benefits of open trade, the challenges of protecting them from harmful products have grown. The goods they consume are now regularly produced abroad or are sourced with ingredients or parts from an array of countries. The expanding reach of international supply chains means that many producers of goods, or of components of goods, do not bear the costs incurred by those injured by what they sell, that liability and reputational sanctions are difficult to impose, and that private accountability remains low. At the same time, regulators simply are unable to interdict all potentially...

  9. List of Contributors
    (pp. 273-276)
  10. Index
    (pp. 277-290)
  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 291-292)