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However, according to a new Government Accountability Office report, despite the growing number of imports, the agency has no access to certain customs information that could help protect American consumers from purchasing unsafe goods.

The GAO is Congress’s investigative arm that oversees the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is responsible for ensuring products do not pose health or safety risks to consumers. According to a 2002 agreement, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has asked Customs and Border Protection for access to “manifest data” that describes what cargo is coming into the country.

However, the GAO report says that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has not been receiving the information because Customs and Border Protection felt that the information was not “specific enough” for the agency’s use. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has come under fire in recent years over increasing numbers of recalled lead-paint toys, mainly from China. Nevertheless, it has been nine years since the original agreement between the two agencies and they still haven’t worked out access to information on imports. According to Philip Curtin, a senior analyst at the GAO, although the information on imports may not be perfect, it would be better to have some information available to the than none at all. Such information could have protected the most vulnerable consumers, children, from toys containing lead.

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