CHINA / Top News

EU confident of toy safety deal
By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-04-27 06:11

China and European Union have reached an agreement in principle that will ensure the safety of Chinese toys exported to the 25 countries of the European Union, a top European Commission official said yesterday.

Robert Madelin, director-general for health and consumer protection of the European Commission a branch of the governing body of EU said that both sides had initialled an EU-China Road Map for Safer Toys and are already implementing it.

Madelin leaves today after a three-day visit to China, during which he met with Chinese officials to discuss various issues concerning health and safety.

China is the largest toy exporter to the EU, accounting for 80 per cent of the toy imports.

However, nearly 25 per cent of reports to the Rapid Alert System for Non-Food Products last year concerned toys and 85 per cent of those were made in China.

He said his visit was aimed at making further progress on the issue and paving the way for the signing of a formal agreement later this year.

"We see a strong political will to implement it (the Road Map)," said Madelin, who added that he had come to seek a "political commitment" from the Chinese side.

The Road Map aims to improve the safety of Chinese toys exported to the EU and provides a framework for training and technical assistance, an exchange of Rapid Alert System information and a mechanism for tracing dangerous products.

Madelin said "unbranded goods" account for most of the unsafe products.

He cited a few common problems with toys exported to the EU, such as metal toys with sharp edges.

"None of these issues is specific to China, but the volume of our trade with China means that there is a lot of potential to remove these toys from the market if the smaller Chinese manufacturers understand how to fix these problems," he said.

He said the commission is also trying to educate these small producers through seminars or written materials.

A seminar on toy safety will be held in July in Shenzhen, one of the largest toy manufacturing cities in China, with the commission's participation.

He also expected intermediate traders, whether Chinese or European, to be more attentive to their responsibilities not to pass unsafe goods onto European markets.

(China Daily 04/27/2006 page2)