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Fri, Nov 02, 2007 - Page 10 News List

PRC bans hundreds of toy makers from exporting goods

AP , BEIJING

More than 700 toy factories in booming southern China have been banned from exporting what they produce as part of a crackdown on shoddy products, the government said yesterday.

The four-month-long crackdown was triggered by widespread reports of dangerous or faulty Chinese exports, including toys tainted with lead, toothpaste laden with an antifreeze ingredient, and pet food fortified with an industrial chemical.

The Guangdong Provincial Government said the export bans followed inspections of 1,726 toy factories, almost 85 percent of the province's total.

Of those, 764 had their export licenses revoked or suspended "because of various quality problems," it said in a statement posted on its official Web site yesterday.

Another 690 were ordered to renovate their plants and improve product quality, it said.

Problems in China's toy industry came into focus earlier this year when US-based Mattel Inc recalled more than 21 million Chinese-made toys worldwide. Products including Barbie doll accessories and toy cars were pulled off shelves because of concerns about lead paint or tiny detachable magnets that could be swallowed.

Design flaws caused the vast majority of the recalls, but the problem has rebounded on producers in Guangdong, where 5,000 toy-making enterprises accounted for about 80 percent of China's toy exports last year.

About 1.5 million people are employed by the factories, which produced 121.9 billion yuan (US$16.1 billion) in toys last year.

On Monday, authorities said they had arrested 774 people in a crackdown on substandard goods. Quality controllers have also instituted a system of using barcodes to track catfish which is helping Chinese consumers to trace their food -- another measure that will improve quality.

The government says it has also sponsored quality control training for more than 1,000 people in the country's toy industry in an effort to ensure export safety.

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