Chinese workers

WASHINGTON – As consumer safety recalls of Christmas products made in China continue at a torrid pace, a new report shows the average Chinese worker making toys is paid a meager 36 cents an hour – just 2.5 percent of what U.S. toy manufacturers pay domestically.

Today, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the latest recall of a Christmas import – a holiday candle set that tips over and whose exterior coating is flammable. The snowman and Christmas tree candles were manufactured in China.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission warned the candles should not be used because of the fire hazard they pose. Instead, they should be returned to the retailer for a full refund.

Chinese-made toys accounted for 94 percent of the CPSC recalls this year. Most of the recalls were related to excessive and dangerous levels of lead used in cheap paints.

The surge in product hazards and safety recalls in recent years coincides with the relocation of toy production and other manufacturing plants in China and other countries. About 74 percent of toys sold in the U.S. are now made in China. In total, 87 percent are made overseas.

In 1970, 86 percent of U.S. toys were made in the USA, employing some 60,000 American workers.

While the shift overseas has been tough on U.S. workers, the profits of toy companies have soared as a result. Toy profits have risen from $50 million in 1970 to $930 million last year.

“Anxiety levels about the toy safety this holiday season are as high as the U.S. trade deficit, and the two trends are not unrelated,” said Todd Tucker, research director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division and lead author of the report, “Santa’s Sweatshop: Made in D.C. With Bad Trade Policy.” “Toy and retail companies have systematically pushed for ‘trade’ agreements that provide new investor protections and safety limits to protect their ‘low road’ offshoring business strategies. Our kids and families are paying the price.”

U.S. toy production has declined 70 percent since the establishment of the North American Free Trade Agreement and World Trade Organization and more than 500 percent since the 1970s, claims the report.

From 1972 through 1982, when most toys were made in the U.S., there were never more than 12 toy recalls in any year. This year there were 120 – almost all from China.

A WND investigation into the safety of Chinese exports last spring triggered widespread interest in a problem that has continued right up through this Christmas season – highlighted by a series of recalls of children’s toys and other holiday items.

Members of Congress specifically referenced statistics gathered in WND’s investigation of product recalls from China. WND found most of the consumer product safety recalls involved imports from China. Imports from China were recalled by the CPSC twice as often as products made everywhere else in the world, including the U.S., the study of government reports showed.

Concerns with China imports began with the pet food scandal that killed or maimed up to 39,000 American cats and dogs. WND’s investigation followed into imports of foods meant for human consumption. The New York Times and other major U.S. media followed.

As WND reported, China, the leading exporter of seafood to the U.S., is raising most of its fish products in water contaminated with raw sewage and compensating by using dangerous drugs and chemicals, many of which are banned by the FDA.

The stunning news followed WND’s report that FDA inspectors report tainted food imports from China are being rejected with increasing frequency because they are filthy, are contaminated with pesticides and tainted with carcinogens, bacteria and banned drugs.

China consistently has topped the list of countries whose products were refused by the FDA – and that list includes many countries, including Mexico and Canada, who export far more food products to the U.S. than China.

China is the second largest source of imports for the U.S. while the U.S. is China’s largest overseas market and second largest source of foreign direct investment.

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