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Toy firm set to play abroad

Updated: 2012-10-19 10:47
By Qiu Quanlin in Guangzhou ( China Daily)

Focus on quality will give Shenzhen company bigger market presence

Hu Lantian remains confident that her toy business has something special to offer that can help it tap into overseas markets in the near future.

"As a toymaker, we have been hit by the global economic downturn. But we are confident in the market prospects because we are different - the toys made by our company are self-innovated and we have been doing this for nearly a decade," said Hu, without giving the company's actual sales figures.

Hu, founder of the toymaker Shenzhen PP Bear Industry Investment Co, said she hoped more self-innovated Chinese brands will enter the international market.

"It just needs some time for international recognition of our brand, which is quite different from those simply copied and processed. And I do believe that sales will rebound once global demand recovers," Hu told China Daily.

In 2003, when Hu launched her toy bears, which interact with children by imitating human expressions, she knew her product was vastly superior to the millions of other toys being made in Shenzhen, a major manufacturing hub in Guangdong province.

What PP Bear has in common with many other companies in Guangdong, an economic powerhouse in South China, is that it is striving to upgrade while also eager to enter the international market by focusing on technological innovation.

"The problem for us now in the domestic market is that our products are always copied by other toymakers. So, we will shift our business strategy to the overseas market," Hu said.

Overseas sales currently account for only one-third of the company's total, Hu said.

Sources with Guangdong foreign trade and economic department said that exports of self-innovated products made in Guangdong currently account for 40 percent of the province's total export volume.

Provincial government sources said the percentage of exports of self-innovated products will increase to 80 percent in the next three years due to the province's efforts to upgrade its traditional manufacturing industries.

Guangdong's trade reached $715.62 billion in the past three quarters, a year-on-year increase of 6.1 percent.

The province's exports grew by 6.4 percent year-on-year to reach $417 billion in the first nine months, accounting for 27.9 percent of the country's total.

"For more than two decades, Guangdong has been in the lead position in economic growth, given that it has developed as one of major manufacturing bases in the world," said Feng Shengping, chief researcher with the Guangdong Situation Research Center.

"But the era of high economic growth, which mainly depended on traditional manufacturing, has passed," Feng said.

Industrial upgrading will be accelerated when the government shifts its focus from achieving high economic growth to innovation and developing high-end industries, Feng added.

Guangdong's GDP growth rate is expected to fall below 10 percent this year due to a harsh process of industrial upgrading amid the global economic downturn, Feng said.

From 2008 to 2011, Guangdong's GDP grew by 10.4 percent, 9.7 percent, 12.4 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

At the annual session of the Guangdong People's Congress in January, the provincial government set a target of 8.5 percent for GDP growth this year.