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Business Groups Ask CPSC to Withdraw Proposal on Certificates of Compliance

Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Nearly three dozen organizations have asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission to suspend or withdraw a May 2013 proposed rule that would make significant changes to the Commission’s regulations on the certificates of compliance required to be submitted for imported and domestically-made consumer products. In an Oct. 31 letter, the group of importers, manufacturers, retailers, logistics service providers and others said that unless the proposal is suspended or withdrawn “the CPSC staff may be limited in its ability to engage fully and directly with various stakeholders,” which “is necessary if the Commission hopes to meet its policy objectives effectively.”

Regulated consumer products must be certified as compliant with CPSC regulations by the manufacturer (including an importer) and the private labeler of the product, if applicable. A certificate of conformity must accompany the applicable product or shipment of products. In May 2013 the CPSC proposed that to satisfy this requirement certificates for regulated finished products that are imported for consumption or warehousing must be filed electronically with U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the time of filing the entry (or entry and entry summary if filed together). The proposed rule also sought comment on allowing certificates to be filed at a time earlier than entry, at manifest. The CPSC proposed that electronic filing be done in the form of an image, a PDF file or data elements that can be uploaded into CBP’s database and electronically provided to CPSC for review. The Commission recognized that electronic filing would require software upgrades that may need to be completed in stages by CBP, CPSC and stakeholders.

The proposed rule has proven controversial with many private sector companies that believe it is “a significant change to current supply chain operations and will have a major adverse impact on businesses’ operations.” In recognition of these concerns the CPSC held a Sept. 18 workshop to discuss the proposal, and the Oct. 31 letter praises the CPSC for this and other “efforts at outreach to understand industry concerns.” However, the letter calls on the agency to go even further by establishing a stakeholder advisory group that will assist in the effort to update the certificate of compliance regulations.

The letter also advises the Commission to “be mindful of the changes to the import entry process that are driven by (a) Executive Order 13659, which directs the Border Interagency Executive Council to engage with and consider the advice of industry and other relevant stakeholders regarding opportunities to improve supply chain management processes; and (b) the development of the “single window” through which businesses will transmit data required by participating federal agencies for the importation or exportation of cargo. The letter also urges the creation of a permanent stakeholder advisory group that would help the CPSC “fully understand how the current entry process works and how changes would impact the industry and agencies like CBP and the CPSC itself.”

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