India seeks WTO members’ views on draft quality norms for toys

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on February 11, 2020 Published on February 12, 2020

The move will ensure safer toys for children and keep non-essential imports under check   -  SUSHANTA PATRONOBISH

As per the draft, the BIS would be the certifying and enforcing authority for all toys

India has sought comments from World Trade Organisation (WTO) members on a draft quality control order on toys floated by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, which seeks to tighten quality norms for toys, both imported and manufactured locally, and calls for mandatory Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certification.

This will not just ensure safer toys for children but is also in line with the government’s current policy of keeping non-essential imports under check.

“WTO members have been asked to give their comments on the draft order within 15 days. Once the notification is out, the new provision will be in place within six months,” an official told BusinessLine.

India’s proposed new standards for toys and mandatory BIS certification requirement may not be welcomed by exporting countries such as China, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Germany and the US, which may view it as a non-tariff barrier.

Sub-standard quality

But the sub-standard quality of many imported toys is a reason for worry for the government, the official added. India imports around 85 per cent of toys sold in the domestic market; imports in 2018-19 were around $1.4 billion. As per the draft quality control order for toys that has been circulated for comments, Indian standards on safety aspects related to mechanical and physical properties, flammability, safety of swings, slides and similar activity toys, requirements and test methods for finger paints and certain pthalates esters in toys and children’s products, need to be strictly adhered to. Moreover, the BIS would be the certifying and enforcing authority for the toys.

A similar quality certification requirement for certain steel product imports has already led to the EU complaining about it at the WTO and calling for acceptance of global certification.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her Budget speech this month, had said that all ministries will issue orders for quality standards during the course of this year. This would help in promoting sale of quality goods in the country and reduce import of sub-standard goods.

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Published on February 12, 2020
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