From China Directly
In a video report titled “Toxic Toothpaste: A Consumer Alerts the World” (October 1 2007), reporters from the New York Times portray markets as strangely unmediated: toothpaste directly from (not producers, not distributors, not retailers but a whole distant supply apparatus called “a country”, here unsurprisingly) China to the hands of the sovereign consumer (a consumer-hero that happened to read the list of ingredients, spot diethylene glycol and debunk the faulty product). But China is not a manufacturer, nor a seller, nor a merchant. It is at best a country. It contains of course such things as manufacturers and merchants — who, by the way, are rather unable to do any business abroad without what specialists knowingly call a “counterpart” ( i.e. a collaborator in trade, a partner, a socio). Export markets are not things in which products just pop up from a box in a harbor and wait until a consumer bumps into them. The Mattel recallings seem to keep on haunting the media all over the world (see this opinion after France 2 scared its public with “fabriqué en Chine”), even after a quite telling press release in which the firm emphatically supports a rather acknowledged sociological fact: that markets are mediated, organized chains of shared responsibilities. Getting stuff into a country from free-market paradises such as the Zona Libre de Colón or having the Food and Drug Administration telling people to throw Chinese stuff away instead of having a proper ex-ante health control of all the products that enter the consumer market would be part of these.