Toy Story 2: Ban on Chinese imports lifted in 6 weeks

In an unexpected move,the government today lifted the six-month ban on Chinese toys within six weeks of imposing it.....

Written by ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi | Published: March 3, 2009 1:53:03 am

In an unexpected move,the government today lifted the six-month ban on Chinese toys within six weeks of imposing it. The ban,however,still applies to a bulk of Chinese toys making up almost 90 per cent of the country’s imports from Beijing. Commerce department sources said only high-end products that are exported to Western markets like the European Union and the US,would be allowed entry into the Indian market.

Following the ban on January 23,there had been speculation by the People’s Daily of China that China was planning to move the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against India’s decision to close entry to Chinese toys. However,according to sources,no official notification had come from the Chinese government so far. Today’s move of a partial lift on the ban may be aimed at appeasing China,which is also India’s largest trading partner.

Stepping up safety standards in the toy industry,the directorate general of foreign trade’s notifications said that the import of only those Chinese toys would be allowed which conform to international health and safety standards followed in India. The new standards don’t apply solely to Chinese toy makers,but to the domestic toy industry as well. However,the domestic industry would initially be given some time to adjust to the new requirements.

“Yes,we are working on new safety standards for the toy industry,but we would also have to keep in mind the interest of the domestic industry before deciding on anything,” consumer affairs secretary Y S Bhave had told The Indian Express at an earlier occasion.

Though the Indian government had given ‘safety concerns’ as the rationale for imposing the ban,many believed that it was more of a protectionist move. It is most likely that “it has been done to protect India’s labour engaged in this sector,” Toys Association of India (TAI) general secretary Rajesh Arora had told The Indian Express just after the ban was imposed. The TAI had not made any representation to the government recently over the matter,he had said.

The toys market in India is estimated at about Rs 2,500 crore,and the volume-driven,price-competitive Chinese toys control roughly about 70 per cent of the global toy market. In India,the organised sector makes up to $1 billion of the total $2.50-billion Indian toy industry. There are more than 1,000 units in the small-scale sector and a larger number in the cottage industry. The per capita expenditure on toys in India is just 50 cents,a fraction of $34 per capita in the US. In India,Mumbai and Delhi account for nearly 95 per cent of the toy output.

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