India relaxes ban on import of Chinese toys (Lead)

March 2nd, 2009 - 7:59 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 2 (IANS) India Monday relaxed the general ban on the import of Chinese toys imposed over a month ago if such shipments come with certificates from independent agencies saying they meet the prescribed global health and quality standards.
A notification by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade said the ban on such imports from China will continue for the designated period of six months since Jan 23, but not if they have certificates from globally accredited testing agencies.

The testing laboratories must be affiliated with the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation, the directorate said.

According to commerce ministry officials, the ban was imposed after dangerous levels of toxins were found in imported toys, exposing the 130 million children in India to risks including liver damage and disruption of mental health.

But China being a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) like India, its exporters are entitled to national treatment when it comes to health or safety standards. They are entitled the same privileges extended to domestic players.

Hence, the commerce ministry officials explained, the government had to issue a fresh notification that levelled the playing field.

The ban, however, was imposed after a widely-published study by non-government forum Toxics Link had reported dangerous levels of lead and cadmium in PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and soft toys sold in the country.

Lead and cadmium are proven poisons, being neurotoxins and nephrotoxins. Neurotoxins are agents that can cause toxic effects on the nervous system while nephrotoxins can cause toxic effects on the kidney.

Even the tiniest amounts can have long-term and measurable effects on children, while at the same time displaying no distinctive symptoms. In the case of lead, some amount is filtered out but the rest is distributed into the blood stream, liver, brain, kidneys and bones, the agency maintained.

As per various estimates, the Indian toy market is worth $2.5 billion, of which $1.5 billion is the output of the unorganised sector, over which the government has little control.

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