Manufacturers say stop with Chinese products, the government is pushing the industry to become the main player

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In a significant boost for local manufacturing in India, imports of toys have fallen 70 percent while exports have risen 61 percent over the past three years, data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said.

According to the government statement, imports of toys into India for HS codes 9503 (tricycles, scooters, pedal cars), 9504 (video game consoles and machines) and 9505 (festival, carnival or other entertainment items) fell US$371 million in the fiscal year 2018-19 to $110 million in 2021-22, down 70.35 percent.

For HS code 9503, toy imports have declined even faster, from US$304 million in FY2018-19 to US$36 million in FY2021-22 for HS code 9503.

PM’s push

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also given a boost to the toy manufacturing sector by highlighting the industry and promoting local toys in his monthly radio show Mann ki Baat, where he spoke about local entrepreneurs who make “toys for the world” and the skills of the Landes highlighted becoming a “toy hub”.

“The global toy industry is about 7 billion million, but India’s share is very small…India has a rich tradition of local toys – from Karnataka to Kondapalli in Andhra Pradesh to Dhubri in Assam…I appeal to my startup friends…come on let’s join forces for toys,” PM Modi had said in August 2020.

“Recently we have promoted the development of apps with Indian innovation. Several apps have since appeared. These small steps will eventually create India’s identity,” he added.

Toy makers say the government’s push towards local production and the prime minister’s promotion of the sector have given significant support to the industry’s growth.

“The government made an important and good decision to stop Chinese products. We had seen the phase of the market where we were only a few local manufacturers and the market was completely dominated by China. But now competition within local manufacturers has increased and alongside Delhi, states like Gujarat and South India are also taking the lead,” 34-year-old Anubhav Jain of United Agencies Distributors LLP, a maker of high-quality plastic toys, said.

“The Prime Minister’s statement on the toy industry has made a huge difference in recent years. There used to be a handful of manufacturers in Delhi, now there are even local manufacturers,” he adds.

Jain also said his company’s production and sales increased by over 15-25% post-Covid.

Policies to boost exports

Manufacturers and trade associations say some of the government’s recent actions have contributed to the industry’s sudden boom.

“Firstly, the 300 percent increase in import duty on Chinese toys and secondly, the mandatory BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) labeling for toys has helped the industry a lot,” said Naresh Kumar Gautam, vice president of the Toy Association of India and owner of Little Genius toys.

The government increased the Basic Customs Duty (BCD) on Toys-HS Code-9503 from 20 percent to 60 percent in February 2020.

According to Gautam, when BIS certification for toys became mandatory, local manufacturers started making toys and the quality was so good that it was exported.

“I have been making wooden toys for 32 years. We made toys according to the requirements from countries like the US or Europe,” he said.

In order to provide a platform for showcasing their works, the government recently organized the 13th edition of Toy Biz B2B (Business to Business) International Exhibition at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi from July 2nd to 5th, where toy makers from across the country attended.

“After the fair we have so many orders that we have pre-orders for the next six months. We even ran out of space in our factory to meet the current demand, so the government decided to allocate us industrial space near Jewar Airport in Greater Noida,” Gautam added.

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