Page last updated at 09:21 GMT, Wednesday, 22 October 2008 10:21 UK

Wal-Mart acts over Chinese goods

Wal-Mart shop

Wal-Mart has told its Chinese suppliers they will have to adhere to new quality standards and have better knowledge of the practices of their sub-contractors.

The move comes after numerous US recalls of Chinese-made products, including various toys in 2007 after high concentrations of lead were found.

Wal-Mart says it is aiming for its suppliers to get 95% of their products from highly-rated firms by 2012.

Some $9bn (5.5bn) of Wal-Mart's goods come directly from China.

Wal-Mart will focus on getting its suppliers to meet environmental obligations, provide safe and healthy work environments and offer adequate compensation.

The US store chain also wants suppliers to assume more responsibility and play a bigger role in ensuring their own sub-contractors are conducting their businesses to high standards.

"We expect you to tell us not just where the tennis shoes were assembled, but which sub-contractor played a role in making them," said Mike Duke, vice-chairman of Wal-Mart's international branch.

He was speaking at a meeting in Beijing, attended by several Wal-Mart suppliers.

The new standards will come into force next month and will eventually be extended to cover all the company's goods.

The quality and safety standards of several Chinese products have caused concern in recent times. Products ranging from toys to pet food have been blighted by scares.

This week, 1.6 million Chinese-made cribs were recalled by Delta Enterprises after the deaths of two infants.

China itself is currently experiencing a domestic safety scare, after thousands of infants fell ill because they consumed tainted milk.

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