China tells WTO partners working on food safety

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GENEVA, Oct 18 (Reuters) China told fellow members of the World Trade Organisation today it was working to improve food safety, keeping up a charm offensive on product quality.

Chinese products have been hit by a series of scandals this year ranging from toothpaste and pet food to toys and tyres, and the authorities, concerned at the impact on Brand China, have reacted by tightening up the rules.

The scandals fed protectionism in the United States and other countries, and contributed to growing public concern about food safety, reflected in angry exchanges last week in the US House of Representatives about controls on food.

''I sincerely hope that our trading partners could continue to accept the fruit of the world division of labour and enjoy low-price, good-quality Chinese products and services,'' senior Chinese trade official Zhang Xiangchen said.

''Of course, we will do our part to ensure the quality and safety of products made in China,'' he told a meeting of the WTO on food safety, according to a statement of his remarks made available to the media.

China hoped WTO members would strengthen cooperation in food safety to share management experience and learn from each other.

Zhang said the commerce ministry had blacklisted 444 enterprises this year that broke the law on product quality and safety and removed their foreign trade rights.

He described four sets of measures launched by the cabinet, or State Council, to strengthen product quality and food safety, and a four-month ''special rectification programme'' being carried out by Vice Premier Wu Yi, one of China's most senior politicians.

REUTERS RSA KN2252

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