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    1. Suzy 66 is offline

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      #1

      China and US regulations when importing dollar store items - Standards and Rules

      I am looking into regulations that exist between China and the US that I would have to follow for dollar store goods. Is there anything I need to be aware of before importing? Im a bit concerned about safety, as I will focus on non-perishable and perishable items. What kind of quality can I expect and is it worth the investment in China as a manufacturer?
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    2. Sammie is offline

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      #2
      The best thing any business person can do in this type of situation is to get familiar with the country that you’re targeting. You also have to know your own country’s regulations for importing various goods.

      The government’s Department of Homeland Security describes its regulations for trade in detail.

      In general, the consensus seems to be that China, while it knows that in order to trade with the US it must comply with certain regulations that it’s well aware of, sometimes behaves in a way that seem to point in another direction. Because China’s laws are much different, people often end up with a product they can’t use because of safety violations or low quality.
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      #3
      While you’d think that most companies would not work with unregulated manufacturing plants and distributors out of China, that’s not always the case. There’s definitely a lot of products in the US that has slipped through the cracks. I don’t think that US companies in general are trying to skirt around the issue of safety, because no one wants to face a lawsuit from a crack team of American lawyers. However, it tends to go that way here: you get away with what you can until you’re stopped.

    4. Suzy 66 is offline

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      #4
      What kinds of standards does China have? Are there any standards at all? I know the US has strict guidelines for safety established by several commissions. How do they compare then?

    5. Ray_cap's Avatar
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      #5
      Let’s take the FCC, for example. The FCC has laws that protect licensed goods and materials and the safety of consumers for electronic items and things with a radio frequency or wireless capabilities.

      Products that meet safety requirements will also be marked with certain certifications, like the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and ETL Testing Laboratories (ETL), both of which test electronic goods for safe use. This will be a silk-screen certification or logo that appears on the product. There are real safety hazards for things like electronics that must meet safety guidelines on the US market that China just doesn’t have. They don’t have the equivalent of a governmental safety standard. It costs them money for things to go through testing and receive certification, and they aren’t required to do it – and they don’t.

      Whenever you’re dealing with goods that have electrical components or things that emit harmful rays, you’re just dealing with fire.

      In addition to lax safety standards, because China is a monopoly there just isn’t market competition that leads to consumers having a voice and demanding safe production standards. Think about safety standards in the US that inform toy production. You have laws regarding choking hazards for small toys and infants/toddlers; their packaging standards that include guidelines for the exclusion of toxins, which China doesn’t have. There’s age standards that inform who can use a particular toy at a certain age, and the US takes into account behaviors that a child at a young age might use that makes playing with a toy dangerous.

      In comparison, China shares maybe 3 or 4 international standards for safety. The US has hundreds. I think they agree to a few so as to appear cooperative; however, it’s also true that enforcement of these laws in China doesn’t follow the same lines as the US.

      If you look at the Toy Industry Association’s website, they have a lot of information about safety standards in the US, as well as international standards.

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      #6
      People complain all over the internet about products from China, but there doesnt seem to be anything we can do about it. As a reseller, I guess its up to individuals to make quality a priority and following regulations so that consumers arent hurt.

    7. Suzy 66 is offline

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      Is there really that big of a concern about safety?

    8. JohnnyRotten is offline

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      #8
      Some stores will access dollar items legitimately, like through overstock of US products or items from past seasons or stock, and these products are safe.

      However, you might find some product that you can access through reputable US companies but are designed for use in other countries, like Mexico or Canada. Even products targeting these countries can be designed with different safety regulations, like different amounts of fluoride in toothpastes. In this case, you want to look for approval from the American Dental Society; in fact, the Canadian Dental Society also follows the same safety regulations. This is a safety issue because in countries where water isnt fluoridated, their safety regulations differ and allow more fluoride in the toothpaste, which can be harmful to US residents who have fluoridated water. I would recommend doing some research on associations or certifications that certain products require and make sure the goods youre sourcing have the right approvals before you buy them.

      Buying products that are past their freshness date can also be a problem, because generally the product wont be as effective once its past its expiration date.

      Products coming from China occasionally have lower safety regulations, because they dont have the equivalent of the FDA in their country. And frankly, their government just isnt that concerned with following the safety regulations that are outlined by countries to which they export.

      Many of Chinas dollar store items, like little toy trinkets, often contain lead. While you can get cheaper prices from Chinas goods, youre most likely playing with fire. If you do your homework, you should be able to stay out of trouble and know what kind of product youre getting.

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      #9
      One of the major contributors to this problem is the sheer volume of goods that pass through US customs on a daily basis. Its just not possible for each shipment to be inspected for quality, number one, or safety, number two. Thats why there are standards that manufacturing companies must comply with, and that businesses importing the goods need to check out.

      Unless there is already a good reason for the shipment to be inspected or it undergoes random inspection, things just get passed through.

      There are also ways that companies get around regulations that helps speed clearing customs. There are a variety of ways you can pay for testing on a certain product that will pre-approve it for customs. However, Im not sure about the quality of testing or the labs in which its done.

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      Another critical area of difference is that US products must undergo third-party testing to get approval before they can go onto the market.

      We use third parties here because it is an unbiased, neutral company that tests the product for certain safety factors. So, if it gains approval, you can trust that it’s safe in general.

      You can have third-party testing done on any product that you want to source from China, but it costs a lot of money, which usually makes purchasing from China prohibitive. China doesn’t do third-party testing either, for the same reason. It would make their products too expensive and they wouldn’t have scores of US companies wanting to produce their goods in China. Don’t get me wrong; reputable US companies have to have third party testing done, but on a dollar store item? I think not. 

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