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Improving Product Safety for U.S., Mexican Consumers

Tomatoes are displayed at a vegetable stall in La Merced market, downtown Mexico City. (FILE)

Memorandum of Understanding will help stop health and safety hazards before they become a problem.

In the 20 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, entered into force and set the stage for unprecedented economic cooperation between the United States, Mexico and Canada, trade between the United States and Mexico has grown by leaps and bounds. Today, annual trade between the two countries exceeds $500 billion.

Improving Product Safety for U.S., Mexican Consumers
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U.S. exports to Mexico include corn, soybeans, pork, poultry, eggs and beef, electronics and machinery, vehicles and plastics. In return, Mexico sends optic and medical instruments, machinery, car and truck parts, mineral fuel and oil to the United States. Mexico is also the United States’ second largest supplier of food products, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables, beer and wine, and snack foods such as chocolate.

The variety and volume of goods passing through our shared border is enormous. To facilitate the smooth and rapid movement of trade goods, the U.S. government engages in regulator-to-regulator dialogues with Mexican authorities, many of which are coordinated by our bilateral High Level Regulatory Cooperation Council. It is especially important that the U.S. and Mexican agencies that ensure product safety maintain coordination.

That is why, in mid-August, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an agency that protects the U.S. public from unreasonable risks of injury or death due to dangerous consumer products, and its Mexican counterpart, Profeco, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to help stop health and safety hazards before they become a problem. The two agencies agreed to cooperate on tracking problems and enforcing regulations, to share information regarding public regulation, and to work together to assess product safety risks. From testing lead paint in toys and children’s products, to ensuring power tools and household chemicals do not create hazards, the two agencies will work together to protect consumers from possible risks.

“Regulatory cooperation is an important step in making our economies more competitive," said Richard O’Brien, who represented the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding. “At the core of our cooperation, the CPSC and its Mexican government partners recognize that finding solutions to product safety problems helps everyone.”