China, Ascending

By Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor | June 6, 2013

US-China Cosmetic Regulatory Symposium.

China has become one of the largest markets for cosmetic products as well as one of the largest manufacturing regions for them in the world. To help its members understand the dynamic, elusive and complex market, the New York chapter of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists (NYSCC) hosted its first US-China Cosmetic Regulatory Symposium on May 16 in Woodbridge, NJ. The organization welcomed officials from China as well as regulatory experts to present the latest information about regulations in China.

According to conference organizers, the NYSCC has benefitted greatly from the cooperation of the Chinese-American Cosmetic Professional Association (CAPCA) in organizing this seminar. This event followed the NYSCC’s annual regulatory seminar in April, where two speakers focused on the region (For more on this, see p. 64 in the May 2013 issue of Happi). The morning and early afternoon sessions were offered in Mandarin and English with interpreters available via headset.

Event organizers Brian Hom (left) and Steve Herman (right) with special guest
Jon Huntsman, former US Ambassador to China.
After opening remarks from Eddy S. Mayen, director of the office of international business development and protocol for the New Jersey Business Action Center within the Department of State, Chinese regulations were the main topic of the morning. Guest speakers included: Prof. Rong Shao of China Pharmaceutical University; Dr. Gangli Wang, Ph.D. deputy director at the Institute for Food & Cosmetics Control, National Institute for Food and Drug Control; Yang Lui of the China Association of Fragrance Flavor and Cosmetic Industries (CAFFCI); Pengcheng Ma, Institute of Dermatology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences; Simon Chan of the Hong Kong Cosmetic Technical Resources Centre (HKCTR); Jay Goldring, regulatory director, L’Oréal; and Dr. Evelyn Su of the Zhongshi International Group.

After a VIP photo session/meet and greet for select parties, guests enjoyed a post-dinner Q&A with former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who is a former US Ambassador to China.

Behind the Scenes
China is the second biggest economy in the world, according to event co-chair Steve Herman. “A tremendous part of this economy is chemicals and a lot needs to be done legally,” he told Happi. “It is crucial that American companies understand China—the only way to do that is to have people come to this event to explain how the regulations work…the evolution from China from an exporting country to a market of consumers seeking out US and European products is evident.”

In his remarks at the event, Mayen noted that more than 100 Chinese companies make New Jersey their home, and his office reaches out through the non-profit group Choose NJ.

“We have an advantage in that we have stronger areas of pharma and IT in New Jersey,” he told Happi. “There are 17 out of 20 leading pharmaceutical headquarters in New Jersey (such as Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Novartis). We are a real ‘cluster of scientists.’”

These scientific minds found inspiration in this US-China meetup over a lunch of dumplings, according to event co-chair Brian Hom. He explained, “This is a culmination of two years of work to bring knowledge and experience of businesses who work with China. In regulations, it’s not necessarily business to business, it’s a knowledge from different angles on different levels to bring people to a level playing field.”

From Applications to Classifications
The first session focused on issues ranging from the future of Chinese cosmetic regulations to the interpretation of inspection for standards for licensing. Different Chinese agencies involved in cosmetics, including the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA, formerly known as the State Food and Drug Administration); General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ); State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) and Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP).

Dr. Gangli Wang presented an interpretation of inspection standards for cosmetic licensing. Wang noted that following testing (which includes physical safety, toxicology and human safety), the report then goes over for licensing.

Meanwhile, Prof. Pengcheng Ma’s slideshow detailed an interpretation of the CFDA guide to technical evaluation of cosmetics. The focus on ingredients is a key element in this product.

“For the practical effect of raw materials in their products, such as emollients, emulsifiers, solvents and preservatives, medical terminology can not be used. Product quality and safety control requirements, such as color, odor and sensory specifications, are also considered,” he explained.

During the afternoon session, Jay Goldring, regulatory director at L’Oréal, offered an industry perspective on Chinese cosmetic regulations.

“The situation is changing rapidly and really evolving over time,” he said. “Laws are a complex situation and we need to keep on top of that as an industry.”

Goldring presented an overview of cosmetic regulatory philosophies in the US and China. For example, in the US, cosmetic manufacturers are responsible for the safety and quality of products. In China, however, the government is the responsible party. In the US, all safety aspects regarding China are covered by one agency (the FDA) and one law (Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act); but in China, there are four agencies and 15 laws.

Goldring added that new ingredients are also a source of confusion, as “there isn’t a clear criterion to define what is ‘new’ in ingredients.”

The Main Attraction
Gov. John Huntsman, who served as US Ambassador to China from 2009 through April 2011 when he stepped down to run for the 2012 Republican nomination for President of the United States, arrived later in the day for a VIP photo session, followed by dinner and a Q&A session. Prior to serving as ambassador to China, Huntsman was twice elected as Governor of Utah.

According to event organizers, Huntsman’s breadth of involvement in Asia has been developed over a  lifetime of interest and involvement. He has previously lived in Asia four times and speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese.

NYSCC board members with Huntsman at a VIP meet and greet during the May 16 conference.
Huntsman has extensive foreign policy experience. When he was 19, he embarked on a two-year mission trip to Taiwan. Later, he served as a staff assistant to the president. He was later named US ambassador to Singapore under President George H.W. Bush. As deputy US trade representative under President George W. Bush, Huntsman helped negotiate dozens of free trade agreements with Asian and African nations. Asked by President Obama in 2009 to serve his country once again, Huntsman was unanimously confirmed by the US Senate as ambassador to China. 

In the private sector, Hunstman is a successful businessman with hands-on job creation experience. He served as an executive in his family’s business, Huntsman Chemical, which created hundreds of products and employed thousands of people.  He is a founding director of the Pacific Council on International Policy.

Topics in the Q&A spanned from the World Trade Organization to his family’s roots in the chemical industry to social media. Regardless of the topic, however, it is clear that Huntsman is a big proponent of China.

“What we’ve seen in the past 40 years is nothing short of miraculous,” he told the audience. “By 2040 or 2050, China will be a totally developed country.”

Huntsman admitted that domestic challenges are enormous, and said it is a common misconception that the US is trying to hold down growth in China and the region.

“We have to keep trade open in the Asian-Pacific region, this is key,” he insisted, ”Moving the region from an export model to a consumer model is a challenge, but it is being helped along by the rise of the middle class.”

Huntsman explained too that China is a nation of many faces—as there are 47 ethnic groups among its one billion citizens. Such a diverse population is bound to have vocal opposition, which is finding its global voice via social media.

On future competitors, Hunstman points to India—“India’s political leadership changes; and a lot of India’s fortune is tied to political stability,” he contended.

Concluding the session, Huntsman offered advice to the chemical industry and future business opportunities with China.
“Improvements will be seen in the next generation of leadership with more sophistication,” he predicted. “Doors will be opening to investment and trade. Expect new reforms that parallel those of the late 1970s. It’s the rise of a new dynasty.”
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