January 23, 2009 / 2:53 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-India bans toy imports from China, gives no reason

(Adds details, quotes)

NEW DELHI, Jan 23 (Reuters) - India on Friday banned imports of several types of toys from China for six months without saying why, a move that pleased local manufacturers but shocked importers.

A government statement issued late on Friday did not give details but industry officials said the order would ban imports of almost all toys from China.

The government said in a statement it had banned imports for six months with immediate effect in the public interest.

The Toy Association of India’s president, Raj Kumar, said the ban would severely hit imports of Chinese toys, but Indian authorities had likely taken the step in the interest of the economy.

“You see Chinese toys everywhere. The good, upper-end toys are made in India, but the cheap toys in the street and small shops were being dominated by them. They are bringing in toys without safety norms,” he said.

Kumar said there had been some discussions between toy manufacturers and the government about increasing import taxes on Chinese toys, but he was not expecting a ban.

Another trade official, who did not want to be identified, said the ban may even hit imports of toy components.

“These components are used by Indian companies to make toys. Some companies that have no manufacturing facility, they only import. What will happen to them. This news has come suddenly. I’m really surprised,” he said.

China’s manufacturing industry — a key supplier of toys, apparel and food to much of the world — has faced a wave of complaints in recent years, most recently as thousands of people have fallen ill as a result of consuming milk powder tainted with melamine, a chemical used to make plastics.

The world’s leading toymaker Mattel MAT.N recalled over 21 million Chinese-made toys worldwide in 2007 due to excessive levels of lead paint and other unsafe components. (Reporting by Himangshu Watts and Nidhi Verma; Editing by Mark Williams and Sugita Katyal)

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