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Toy makers urge government to help promote indigenous products

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Kolkata: All it will take for Indian toy makers to capture a major pie of a Rs.13,000 crore ($2 billion) opportunity is a little push from the government by way of promoting indigenisation to replace the flood of imports largely from China, Taiwan and Italy, manufacturers say.

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The Toy Association of India (TAI), while pegging the country’s market at Rs.13,000 crore during 2015-16, has, however, painted a grim picture as far as Indian manufacturing is concerned.

“Currently, only about 20 percent of the market is served by Indian manufacturers and the rest by import of toys from different countries, mainly from China and Italy,” TAI vice president Pawan Gupta, implying that Indian firms, in the current scenario, will be able to harvest only Rs.2,600 crore from the gigantic pie.

According to TAI, India’s overall toy imports increased at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 25.21 percent between 2001 and 2012 while imports from China and Italy surged at a CAGR of 30 percent and 38.6 per cent respectively during this period.

The Indian manufacturers’ base in the segment comprises mostly of some 4,000 micro-medium firms. Seventy-five percent of these are in the unorganized sector, thereby limiting their scope to upscale production or compete with global brands.

“Competitive countries like China have humongous manufacturing capacities and they flood the markets with their products,” he said.

Lack of adequate finance and distinct clusters for toy manufacturing and low level of product conceptualization and design have been cited as the primary impediments for the industry.

Additionally, hurdles in procurement of critical raw materials have been highlighted as plaguing the Indian small-scale toy makers.

Gupta said the government needs to design simpler procedures for indigenous toy makers to raise capital.

“The success of SMEs in the toy industry can grow manifold if they start working in self-sufficient clusters in certain regions”, he said.

Reputed toy maker Funskool echoed the need for a change in the government’s outlook to boost the industry.

“For toy makers to produce in India and join the Make in India campaign, fundamental changes in the way the government looks at the toy industry is needed”, Funskool (India) CEO John Baby.

The company highlighted installation of proper infrastructure support like R&D, tool-making facilities and testing labs, among others, to enable the growth of indigenous toy manufacturing.

While the sector at present employs around three million people at various skill levels, Baby said the present labor laws do not support the industry to undertake high volume one-run production.

The industry further highlighted the health hazards children may be exposed to when the quality of the materials in the toys are compromised for pricing.

“The cheaper imports of toys, especially from markets like China are available in the market at a lesser price, but their quality is a matter of concern,” Gupta said.

Further, while many global brands are in the process of making their India entry, which will give rise to further innovation and boost the economy, an existing problem has been that most imported toys don’t cater to the needs of Indian children.

“Domestic manufacture also ensures that the Indian buyers get quality and safe toys for their children at affordable prices”, the Funskool official said.

But cheaper imports from the land of the Hans and Tangs alone cannot be blamed for endangering the health of children.

Among the local manufacturers in India, about 59 percent are still focusing on the production of cheap and unbranded toys, thereby compromising on quality.

“In the future it is expected that these companies will shift towards branded toys as well to stay competitive with international companies,” TAI’s Gupta said.

“The coming times are really bright for the toy industry”, Mayank Aggarwal, director of Playwell Implex, a toy distribution company.

He said the industry may touch the Rs.13,000 crore mark by the end of 2015 on account of increasing consumerism and spends from a rapidly expanding middle-class that could comprise over 200 million people by 2020.”The market size is increasing by at least 20 to 25 percent”, Aggarwal.
India’s toy industry caters to an estimated 304.8 million children in the 0-12 age group years and 50 million babies in the 0-2 age group.

(IANS)

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The Partial Shutdown Of The Government Of United States Ends

The shutdown furloughed 800,000 government employees, with at least 420,000 required to continue working without pay, and the remainder sent home

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Internal Revenue Service employees Brian Lanouette, of Merrimack, N.H., center right, and Mary Maldonado, of Dracut, Mass., right, join with others as they display placards during a rally by federal employees and supporters, Jan. 17, 2019. VOA

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget sent a memo late Friday to closed federal government departments and agencies to inform them that their divisions are now open and their employees can return to work.

The memo called on the agencies to “reopen offices in a prompt and orderly manner.”

The memo said the OMB appreciates the “cooperation and efforts during this difficult period” of the government shutdown.

Earlier, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a three-week spending bill, ending the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

“After 36 days of spirited debate and dialogue, I see that Democrats and Republicans are willing to put partisanship aside, I think, and put the American people first,” Trump said in a Rose Garden announcement. “This is an opportunity for all parties to work together for the benefit of this beautiful nation.”

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The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen beyond a chain fence during the partial government shutdown in Washington, Jan. 8, 2019. VOA

By Friday evening, both the U.S. Senate and House had approved the legislation, which Trump then signed.

The bill funding the government through Feb. 15 does not include money for the construction of Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall. The president said that a bipartisan committee would be formed in the meantime to evaluate border security, but, contrary to previous claims, he was not asking for a concrete wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border.

“We do not need 2,000 miles of concrete wall from sea to shining sea. We never proposed that,” he said.

The announcement came on the 35th day of the shutdown, when roughly 800,000 federal employees missed their second consecutive paycheck.

 

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., accompanied by Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., left, speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 25, 2019, after President Donald Trump announces a deal to reopen the government for three weeks. VOA

 

It also came shortly after incoming flights to New York’s LaGuardia airport were delayed because of staffing issues, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA also said that departure delays at LaGuardia, as well as Philadelphia and Newark airports, were the result of air traffic control staffing shortages.

Early Saturday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named the Democratic House members — Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey of New York, Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, David Price of North Carolina, Barbara Lee of California, Henry Cuellar of Texas, Pete Aguilar of California — who will serve on the bipartisan committee to evaluate border security.

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol Friday after Trump’s announcement, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump agreed to Democratic demands to separate the discussion on reopening the government from border security. He said he hopes Trump has “learned his lesson.”

 

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President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, Jan 25, 2019, in Washington. VOA

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters, “I see every crisis as a challenge or an opportunity” and was careful not to characterize Trump’s motives during the government shutdown.

Trump’s announcement reversed his position from Thursday, when he said he would accept a deal to at least temporarily reopen the federal government if it contained a “pro-rated down payment” on the U.S.-Mexico border wall he has sought.

“It’s just common sense, walls work,” Trump said Friday, arguing the barrier would keep out criminals, human traffickers and drugs.

In an apparent reference to reports he was considering declaring a national emergency at the border, Trump said he had “a very powerful alternative” but chose not to use it. He said that option was still on the table if Congress could not come to an agreement within the three-week funding period.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he hopes there will be “good-faith negotiations’’ in the coming weeks to settle differences on border security.

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People rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown in Detroit, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. VOA

A growing number of lawmakers of both parties have said compromise is the only way to end the political stalemate and reopen the government.

“It is long overdue for all sides to come together, to engage in constructive debate and compromise to end this standoff,” Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins said. “Shutdowns represent the ultimate failure to govern and should never be used as a weapon to achieve an outcome.”

Also Read: A Quarter Of U.S. Jobs To Be Affected By Advancement Of A.I.

The shutdown furloughed 800,000 government employees, with at least 420,000 required to continue working without pay, and the remainder sent home, some of whom have been forced to look for temporary work elsewhere to help pay their household bills. All are set to miss their second biweekly paycheck on Friday.

Some government services have been curtailed, as about 10 percent of airport security agents ordered to work have instead called in sick, some food inspections have been cut back, and museums and parks are closed. Federal courts warned they could run out of money by the end of the month. (VOA)