The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, responding to growing domestic and international concerns over the trustworthiness of mainland businesses, has awarded its own certificates to a relative handful of machinery and electronics importers and exporters.
Only 88 firms of 320 applicants met the commission's requirements on research and development, trustworthiness, intellectual property rights and environmental protection.
The certificate awards were launched at the country's largest trade event, the biannual China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair) and are aimed at shoring up foreign investor confidence in mainland exports at a time when safety standards are in the international spotlight.
The certified companies include Great Wall Motor, the country's biggest pickup truck maker, and white-goods producer Haier Group.
Commerce Vice-Minster Ma Xiuhong said the companies receiving the certificates would help lift the quality and credit standards of their industries, which generated imports and exports worth US$635.9 billion in the first seven months of this year, an annualised 23.4 per cent increase.
'They will set good examples not only to their industry peers but also other suppliers in the Canton Fair,' she said yesterday.
Following a wave of recalls by the United States of goods imported from the mainland such as seafood, toothpaste, pet food and toys on safety concerns in the past few months, many exhibitors prominently displayed quality certificates from various sources to convince buyers that they meet international safety levels.
Zhejiang's Shanghai Shuanglu Air Conditioner Manufacture, which exports to Europe, highlighted at its booth a collection of eight quality and safety certificates from the Geneva-based International Standards Organisation and bodies on the mainland and in the US and Europe.
'We want to assure buyers that our products meet safety standards in the US, Europe and China,' said David Wang, an executive at the group's international trade unit.
Lawrence Jouve, a French buyer of smaller electronic goods and home appliances, said she would scrutinise any documents about quality checks of products she was sourcing. 'We are more careful in choosing products, which have to be safe,' she said.
Vagelis Karagounis, a Greek mechandiser of mainland-made kitchen appliances for the past 10 years, found the technology and quality of mainland goods were improving 'every day'.
'The recalls [of tainted toys] are trade issues which were exaggerated,' he said.
Economists have attributed Sino-US trade friction, such as recalls of toys, to the mainlands' trade surplus, which reached US$185.7 billion in the first nine months of the year.