WASHINGTON — Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has entered into a “groundbreaking” collaboration with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to identify and block the sale of illegal and recalled consumer products to U.S. buyers on all of its platforms, the federal agency said Tuesday.
CPSC chairman Elliot F. Kaye introduced the collaboration at the Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair on Tuesday.
Under the arrangement, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has created a direct hotline with the CPSC and pledged to act quickly when the agency identifies unsafe and illegal consumer products, the CPSC said.
In addition, Alibaba will make product safety information available to U.S. importers in the coming days and also create “access points” on its business-to-business platform to outline U.S. safety standards for higher-risk consumer products.
The collaboration marks another step Alibaba has taken in recent months to burnish its credentials as a legitimate online powerhouse. In December, the company said it had spent more than $160 million to fight counterfeits and implement consumer protection efforts.
An outcry over contaminated Chinese consumer products, particularly food and children’s products, imported to the U.S. in 2007 caused a firestorm on Capitol Hill and led to the introduction of legislation to overhaul the CPSC to provide more protection for imported children’s products and food and strengthen federal safety standards. While the number of contaminated imports from China has appeared to decrease significantly over the past seven years, the focus on dangerous and illegal imports and protecting consumer safety has not improved.
“With an increasing number of companies and consumers taking their business online, Alibaba’s decision to implement these new policies is a victory for U.S. consumers and their safety,” Kaye said. “The company’s forward-leaning approach in this regard will help prevent dangerous and recalled products from being passed on to unsuspecting consumers.”
The CPSC said Alibaba had more than 300 million annual active buyers last year and operates its sites as a platform for third parties. Alibaba does not engage in direct sales, compete with merchants or hold inventory.
“We are honored and proud to work with the CPSC on these important and serious consumer protection measures. Chairman Kaye is a strong leader with an excellent track record of results in protecting U.S. consumers,’ said Jim Wilkinson, Alibaba Group’s senior vice president for international corporate affairs. “We look forward to working collaboratively with the chairman and his team to do everything possible to protect consumers.”