The European Union has implemented “the most stringent” set of regulations ever for the toys industry, and some fear it could bring China’s toy industry to its knees.
The EU is the world’s second-largest toy market after the United States, and 80% of its toys are made in China.
Zheng Guohui, a major Hong Kong toy trader, says the new safety regulations, called the “Toy Safety Directive”, were a “game changer” that alters the rules of the entire industry and will lead to a fundamental “industrial reshuffle”. He predicts the effects will become obvious in two to three years, when half the toys companies will not be able to survive.
In July, new rules regarding the chemical content present in toys sold in the EU came into effect as part of a Toy Safety Directive. These new regulations make important modifications product definition safety performance, product conformity assessment and accountability, plus they change the rights of the various responsible parties.
The Toy Safety Directive is without a doubt the world’s most demanding set of regulations for toys, with 57 clauses instead of just 16.
For example, the number of required heavy metal tests have gone up from 8 to 19, and 55 substances have been banned because they could cause allergies. Requirements for chemical and electrical safety have also been strengthened.
For instance, the number of heavy metal tests have increased from 8 to 19 and 55 aromatic substances that could cause allergies have been banned. The new directive also strengthens the requirements in relation to chemical and electrical safety.
China is by far the biggest toy producer and exporter in the world, accounting for two-thirds of global production. It exported $13.9 billion worth of toys in 2012, and the EU accounts for 18.7% of total toy exports, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics.
China’s largest export base for toys is the city of Dongguan, which accounts for over 20% of all Chinese toy exports. Virtually all of the world’s most famous toy brands manufacture their products here.
in 2011 Chinese authorities began offering free counseling and coaching seminars to toy manufacturers to help them deal with the EU’s new directive. Some 10,000 people have participated in these courses, according to a spokesperson for the Dongguan Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine.
Some people in the industry view the new regulations as a challenge to enhance their own strength through healthy competition.
Ru Dezhong, manager of the German-owned Sieper Hardware & Plastic, which produces mainly plastic alloy toys in Dongguan, says that “despite the 5 percent or so cost increase, the implementation of the new directive is a big plus for enterprises.”
He believes the EU’s new directive was a result of the global economic crisis and a way of creating a technical barrier to prevent the loss of toy industry manufacturing jobs at home.
“Were a manufacturer able to break through this barrier, it means the firm’s competitiveness is at the high-end of the global market, whereas the ones that can’t adapt themselves to the standards are at the lower end of the manufacturing chain,” says Ru. “There’s no point in just complaining. The manufacturers must effectively improve their competitiveness and shift to the high end of the industrial chain in order to ensure long-term profits.” Image/Google Images