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More than 700 Attend International Toy Safety Seminar
Lead Content in Toys Likely to be Reduced to Zero, US Industry Leader Says

John Tsang
Li Qing-xiang
Jeffrey Lam

January 9, 2008 - Product safety is everybody's business and should be regarded as a shared responsibility throughout the supply chain, according to toy industry leaders attending a product safety seminar at the Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair, Asia's largest toy show. The seminar, "Latest Product Safety Directives of the Toy Industry and Good Practices in Achieving Safety Standards," attracted more than 700 people, including senior players from Hong Kong, the Chinese mainland and the United States.

Hong Kong, the world's second largest toy exporter, is committed to quality control and product safety, said Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) Toys Advisory Chairman Jeffrey Lam, who kicked off the morning session. "It is this adherence to the highest standards of product quality that made 2007 another gratifying year for the industry," Mr Lam said. Hong Kong toy exports in the first 11 months of 2007 totalled US$11.4 billion, up 25 per cent over the same period last year. Exports to the two main markets - the United States and the European Union - were up 4.7 per cent and 24.2 per cent respectively, despite the numerous US and EU recalls of mainland-made toys.

At the seminar, HKSAR Financial Secretary John Tsang noted that Hong Kong toy companies had responded quickly and effectively to the recent recalls. "A growing number of firms have recruited their own in-house testing teams and are developing their own testing facilities. They are using independent performance monitors to ensure that their products are safe. And all companies are subjected to heightened inspection and supervision procedures in the mainland."

The seminar's other speakers were: Li Qing-xiang, Deputy Director of the Guangdong Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, China; Richard W O'Brien, Director of International Programs and Intergovernmental Affairs, US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC); Carter Keithley, President of the Toy Industry Association (TIA), US; Christian Ewert, CEO & President of the ICTI CARE Foundation; and Harriet Mouchly-Weiss, Managing Partner of the Strategy XXI Group Ltd, New York.

Mr Li said that the general quality of toys made in Guangdong is good. He conceded, however, that there was room for improvement. Currently, 1,323 toy companies have export licences in Guangdong. Mr Li added that his bureau is setting up clear safety regulations. These include stepping up the control of hazardous substances, making manufacturers legally liable for substandard products and making sure that they comply with local authorities' requirements.

The CPSC's Mr O'Brien told the seminar "that we have quite some way to go" to achieve all of our safety goals. He said the US Congress had looked at issues surrounding the toy recalls of last summer and was preparing legislation that would have a great impact on the toy industry. "In both the House and Senate versions of the draft legislation, you can see that for children's products, Congress intends to push the trace levels of lead in paint, and lead in the products themselves, down nearly to zero. "You are better off finding suppliers who simply do not use any lead," Mr O'Brien said. He added that the draft legislation would require US companies to provide complete information on a product's manufacturing history upon request by the CPSC. He concluded by noting that toy safety could not be guaranteed by government inspectors alone. It was dependent, he said, on "100 per cent commitment from the industry itself, from end to end, to implement all best practices toward conforming with safety standards. To the extent the industry is responsive, we can be optimistic about achieving our goals."

Mr Keithley said that the TIA was particularly concerned about the lead paint recalls last summer, as lead usage in the US has been banned for more than 30 years. "Our analysis was that our toy safety standards are excellent, as they have been for years, but it was toy safety testing at the manufacturing level and inspection processes that failed us." The TIA had asked the US government to impose a new requirement, he said, emphasising that it "will not impose a dramatic new burden on most toy manufacturers, as many already have such testing facilities in place."

Mr Keithley added that the TIA has worked hard to help shape the new laws on which the US Senate will vote later this month. They are based on five areas - testing, traceability, lead content limits, federalising of industrial standards and advertising requirements. "We want to help adopt a law that improves toy safety but does not allow unwarranted government involvement," he said.

The 34th Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair features more than 2,000 exhibitors displaying a wide variety of quality, innovative products from around the world. Organised by the TDC, the fair continues through January 10 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Video Download
http://webcast.tdctrade.com/080109_20/e_100.htm Li Qing-xiang
http://webcast.tdctrade.com/080109_22/e_100.htm Richard W O'Brien
http://webcast.tdctrade.com/080109_21/e_100.htm Carter Keithley

Harriet Mouchly-Weiss         Richard W. O'Brien
Carter Keithley         Christian Ewert
From left to right are:
Harriet Mouchly-Weiss, Carter Keithley,
Lawrence Chan, Richard W O'Brien
& Christian Ewert

        From left to right are:
Richard W O'Brien, Carter Keithley,
Christian Ewert, Samson Chan,
Jeffrey Lam, John Tsang, Harriet
Mouchly-Weiss, Dennis Yau,
Lawrence Chan and Li Qing-xiang

Fair Websites
Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair - http://hktoyfair.com
Hong Kong International Stationery Fair - http://hkstationeryfair.com

Media Enquiries
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About the TDC
Established in 1966, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) is the international marketing arm for Hong Kong-based traders, manufacturers and service providers. With more than 40 offices worldwide, including 11 in the Chinese mainland, the TDC promotes Hong Kong as a platform for doing business with China and Asia. The TDC also organises trade fairs and business missions to connect companies with opportunities in Hong Kong and the mainland, while providing information via trade publications, research reports and online. For more information, visit www.tdctrade.com

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