Outsource Power, Import Safety? Challenges and Opportunities of the US-China Food Safety Regulatory Cooperation

72(1) Food and Drug Law Journal (Forthcoming)

35 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2016

See all articles by Ching-Fu Lin

Ching-Fu Lin

National Tsing Hua University

Date Written: March 15, 2016


The United States has a high stake in China’s serious food safety problem, as food products of Chinese origin have dominated the US food market in numerous areas and continued to grow. The conclusion of the US-China Food Safety Agreement has allowed the FDA to strengthen regulatory cooperation with its Chinese counterpart in various aspects. The Agreement also paves the way for the implementation of the new regulatory tools incorporated in FSMA, especially in the cross-border context. However, both the Agreement and FSMA have certain crucial limitations that may create future hurdles to effective implementation in the US China cooperation. This paper therefore endeavors to first examine China’s governance challenges over food safety, with a focus on the 2009 Food Safety Law, the 2015 Amendment, and the fundamental problem of “thin” rule of law. This paper moves to analyze the US-China Food Safety Agreement, reviewing the agreement’s strengths and weaknesses. It further assesses FSMA’s innovative institutional design to regulate imported food products and its limitations. However, both the US-China Food Safety Agreement and FSMA arguably create a regulatory dilemma for the FDA when addressing imported food safety, due to structural mismatch between the broad scope of power granted to the FDA and the long chain of power outsourcing to governments or private companies as primary “regulators.” Neither the Agreement nor FSMA give the FDA adequate capacity to closely oversee such “agents” along the chain of power outsourcing. Framing the US-China food safety cooperation as a multilayer structure that “outsources power” in order to “import safety,” this paper concludes by stressing the need for a robust accountability and effective mechanism for US-China food safety cooperation.

Keywords: Food Safety, International Cooperation, China, FSMA

Suggested Citation

Lin, Ching-Fu, Outsource Power, Import Safety? Challenges and Opportunities of the US-China Food Safety Regulatory Cooperation (March 15, 2016). 72(1) Food and Drug Law Journal (Forthcoming), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2872698

Ching-Fu Lin (Contact Author)

National Tsing Hua University ( email )


HOME PAGE: http://chingfulin.net/

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics