Tougher EU toy safety rules may hurt Chinese toy exports

Updated: 2013-07-09 16:14

By Wang Yu (

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Chinese toy exports to Europe may take a further hit by an updated EU Toy Safety Directive which will be implemented on July 20,2013 and designed to improve the chemical safety requirements for toys sold in the European market.

"About 80 percent of toys on sale in the EU come from China,"according to BBC News reports, which means, this move will have a severely negative impact on Chinese toy companies.

The Toy Safety Directive, in fact, had originally been published in 2009 with the first part coming into effect on July 20, 2011 and referred to the limits and restrictions on a toy’s physical and mechanical properties.

Beginning July 20, 2013, the directive’s second part, which enforces chemical requirements, will take effect. The migration of 19 elements and compounds in heavy metals are limited in the new safety rules, much tougher than the prior 8 elements. Besides that, to protect the health of children form certain dangerous substances, the new chemical requirements also provide limits for another four items, including Nitrosamines and Nitrosable substances, Carcinogens, Mutagens and Reproductive Toxins (CMR) and fragrances that may cause allergies.

A lot of Shenzhen toy exporters have expressed concerns over the new rule. "After the new rules take effect, the cost of raw materials at our company is estimated to increase by about 10 percent,"said an unnamed manager of a toy manufacturing company in Longgang District of Shenzhen where most of the companies are located.

"The new toy safety rules are much tougher than the first ones and the increase of manufacturing costs will soon affect the toy market,"said Chen Yue who runs a toy company in Longgang District.

"We have already seen great impact from the first part of the EU Toy Safety Directive. Our raw materials have improved one grade as a result of it,"he said.

"The updated directive will increase the pressure on plush toy and plastic toy manufactures, for their fabric dyes and paint contain chemical elements and heavy metals,"said a member of the Shenzhen Toy Industry Association.

"The growth rate of enterprises will depend on the content of heavy metals in its products. For some toy companies, its cost may even double for the new rule,"he added.

The toy testing costs alone will be a huge burden for toy export companies. "To guarantee the safety of their products, toy companies need to pay up to 1 million for a special testing machine which small companies cannot afford. Thus, small toy companies have to test their products in qualified labs. However, the testing system in China is not mature, which will be another barrier for Chinese toy companies to meet the new requirements,"the toy association member added.