India has partially lifted the six months ban imposed on import of toys from China earlier this year. The government, on Monday, decided to allow import of Chinese toys which have been given quality certificates by internationally recognised laboratories and agencies. The move follows threats issued by China of complaining against India’s ban at the World Trade Organisation–the multilateral trade body which lays down rules for trade between its 152 member countries.
A notification issued by the directorate general of foreign trade–the body operating under the commerce department which regulates India’s imports and exports–stated that import of Chinese toys conforming to the international standard consumer safety specification for toy safety (ASTM F963, ISO 8124 or IS 9873) and bearing certificates from agencies and laboratories accredited to the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (an international cooperation of laboratory and inspection accreditation bodies) will be permitted.
A blanket ban on imports of all toys from China was put in place by India on January 23. While the DGFT notification placing the ban had not indicated any reason for prohibiting toy imports, commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath had later clarified that the ban was placed due to health concerns as toxins had been found in toys from China on earlier occasions.
The quality of toys manufactured in China came under the international scanner in 2007 when the world’s leading toy manufacturer Mattel called-back over 20 million Chinese-made toys world-wide due to the presence of excessive levels of lead paint and other contaminants.
India’s move to ban Chinese toy imports can also be seen as a non-tariff barrier as the Indian market has been flooded with cheap Chinese toys over the last few years. As per industry estimates, the Chinese have captured more than 60% of the Indian toys market. The Indian toy industry is approximately worth Rs 2,500 crore of which Rs 1,000 crore is in the organised sector and the rest is in the unorganised sector.