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EU Confident of Toy Safety Deal
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An agreement in principle that will ensure the safety of Chinese toys exported to the 25 countries of the European Union (EU) has been reached, 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 initialized an EU-China Road Map for Safer Toys and were already in the process of implementation.

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 EU's largest toy exporter and accounts for 80 percent of the toy imports.

However, last year nearly 25 percent of reports to the regulatory, Rapid Alert System for Non-Food Products, concerned toys and 85 percent of those had been 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" accounted for most of the unsafe products.

He cited a few common problems with toys exported to the EU and made mention of metal toys with sharp edges.

"None of these issues are specific to China but the volume of our trade with them means there's  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 EU was also attempting to educate smaller producers through seminars and written material.

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

He also expected intermediate traders, whether Chinese or European, to be more careful about their responsibilities and not to pass unsafe goods onto the European market. .

(China Daily April 27, 2006)

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