Domestic businesses should be fully aware of provisions contained in the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) to avoid product safety violations when exporting to the market, officials said on Aug. 11.

Addressing a seminar in HCM City , Nguyen The Hung, deputy director of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry in HCM City , said the US has become Vietnam 's largest export market, accounting for more than 20percent of the country's total export value.

Bilateral trade between the two countries has increased strongly in the past 10 years, he said.

Viet Nam 's main export items to the US market include garments and textiles, footwear and wood products.

"The USA is a market with potential for Vietnamese manufacturers and exporters but also a challenging one," he said.

Domestic businesses therefore must continue to improve production and raise product quality and produce more competitive products. They should also keep a close eye on changes in the US market's requirements, he said.

Signed in 2008, the CPSIA imposed new requirements on consumer products, mainly for children, including apparel, shoes, personal care products and toys, said Jeffrey Hilsgen, regional director of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

It set new acceptable levels of several substances including lead content in accessible components, paint and surface coatings and phthalates in plastic products as well as requiring tracking labels to make tracing a product origin easy, he said.

It also required all products exported to the US to have third party certification at CPSC-accepted laboratories to ensure that they meet requirements for product safety, he added.

In Vietnam , the Quality Assurance and Testing Center 3 was in the list of accredited testing laboratories of CPSC, he said.

Apparel producers should think of air flow issues when designing and make products for children, he said, adding that drawstrings in the hood and neck area, or toggles, knot and other attachments at free ends of waist or bottom drawstrings were banned in the US market.

According to an amendment to the CPSIA passed by the US Congress recently, the lead limit in children's products was set to decrease from 300ppm to 100ppm, starting from August 14, he said.

Richard W.O'Brien, director of the Office of International Programmes and Intergovernmental Affairs, said when producing apparel for children, producers must use different kind of materials including cotton, zippers, and buttons. He said producers must require suppliers to provide materials without containing banned chemical and metal.

He also advised local consumer product producers to read the CPSC's handbook for manufacturing safer consumer products, which provides guidance for industry in answering safety-related questions.

Participants at the seminar complained that it took a lot of time to get the testing done, so sometimes, to ensure timely delivery, they had to ship their goods by air, considerably increasing costs.

Richard promised that CPSC would find solutions to the problems./.