Against a background of safety concerns and recalls, the Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair has opened.
As well as showcasing their products, Chinese toy manufacturers want to regain the confidence of buyers worldwide. Jeffrey Lam, of Hong Kong’s Trade Development Council, said they have stepped up safety inspections: “The Chinese authorities have inspected over 2,000 factories, from September to the end of the year and some of the factories have had their licences suspended, subject to improvements being made within a short time. So everyone is taking the inspections and the quality control very seriously.”
China is the world’s top toy exporter; in the first 11 months of last year 40% of its products went to North America, 29% to Asia and a quarter to Europe. Those exports were worth 12 billion euros and increased by 17% from the same period in 2006.
The recalls of products did not hit exports and, at the show, Italian toy shop buyer Filippo Bartozi said he is confident about of the safety checks that have been introduced: “We buy from Mattel, we buy Barbie, Fisher Price. I don’t think they will repeat the mistakes of last year.”
Last year US toy giant Mattel recalled around 20 million Chinese-made toys worldwide. Products including Barbie doll accessories and toy cars were pulled because of concerns about toxic lead paints and tiny detachable magnets that posed a choking risk to children.