Natural Products Association wins competition to expand into China

WASHINGTON The Natural Products Association last week won a national competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce to expand its business into China.

The award was granted as part of the annual Market Development Cooperator Program, which builds public/private partnerships by providing federal assistance to non-profit “export multipliers” like trade associations that are particularly effective in reaching small- and medium-size enterprises.

“China is a huge market for finished natural products, but it’s also a huge supplier of many materials used for those products,” stated David Seckman, executive director and chief executive officer of the Natural Products Association. ”We have worked hard already to build strong relations and solid programs in China, and this award will help accelerate those efforts.

The Natural Products Association China initiative financial award is $160,669, the full amount the association requested, and will be matched with private sector funds over a two year period. The association will work with International Trade Administration partners to accomplish the following objectives:

Improve Market Access—China’s current regulatory environment is very restrictive and out of sync with international standards, the NPA found. The Natural Products Association will be working closely with the USDOC to address non-tariff barriers with China’s regulatory body, the State Food and Drug Administration. The association’s advocacy efforts will improve market access conditions for U.S. manufacturers, the association said.

Safeguard and Manage Supply Chain—Working together with its partner U.S. Pharmacopeia, the Natural Products Association will be testing shipments of raw materials to the U.S. to produce a safer, higher quality finished product that will meet increasingly higher import standards for key markets like Canada and Europe. China is a major player in this area.

Stage Trade Missions and Trade Shows—U.S. companies need to gain greater exposure and build relationships that will lead to increased exports. The Natural Products Association has established an agreement with the China Chamber of Commerce to co-sponsor an annual expo in Beijing beginning in 2008. A trade mission from the United States will be developed to coincide with this expo.

Increasing Online Communications—Establishment of a Chinese-language Web site will allow the Natural Products Association to position itself as a resource and connection point for U.S. exporters and Chinese buyers. The Web site will link to relevant Chinese organizations and contain materials aimed at educating government officials as well as consumers about the benefits of dietary supplements. Natural Products Association member companies will be listed here as well as information on trade shows, trade missions and the association’s supply chain management program. Information will be published in both Chinese and English and link back to the main Natural Products Association site.

In July, the Natural Products Association, along with USP, announced an industry-first program for testing Chinese raw materials for purity and composition. The program is in response to industry’s efforts to maintain product quality and reliability as competition to supply ingredients and raw materials as the industry grows.

Seckman noted that the program likely played a persuasive role in the award decision: “I have to believe the combination of our USP China program and our previous China presence helped us win this award,” he said.