More Chinese Toys Need Export Licenses After Scares

New product types include video games

As the world's biggest manufacturer of the children's products moves to boost quality, seven new types of Chinese made toys will now need export licenses, an official said Jan. 9. "All the new toys will have to be inspected for safety and to make sure they reach the required standard before they can be produced and exported," said Li Qingxiang, the deputy director general of the Guangdong Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, adding that the regulations could put upward pressure on manufacturing costs.

The new product types include video games and even stationery as China continues to crack down on unsafe goods after high-profile scares last year over millions of toys shipped to the U.S. and Europe. Carter Keithley, the president of the Toy Industry Association in the U.S., welcomed the export license move saying he believed the Chinese authorities genuinely wanted to tackle problems. "We think that the Chinese authorities have taken this very seriously," he said. "They have undertaken very realistic and firm steps to try and assure toy manufacturers in China are capable manufactures." Keithley said safety was non-negotiable and that consumers would have to accept higher prices if quality measures pushed up costs, adding he believed last year's scares had not hit U.S. demand for Chinese toys. "Eighty five percent of toys are from China, so they almost do have to buy from China," he said.

China is the world's top toy exporter, selling 22 billion toys overseas in 2006. It exported toys worth $7.1 billion in the first 10 months of 2007, up 20% on a year earlier.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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