India bans Chinese toys over 'public health and safety' concerns
CHINA today voiced 'serious concern' over India's decision to impose a ban on imports of toys and other measures and said the moves threaten to severely affect bilateral trade relations. "The Chinese government expresses serious concern that the Indian side has imposed import restrictions in such a short time period," the ministry of commerce said in a statement on its website. With effect from January 23, the Indian government imposed a ban on Chinese toys for a period of six months. The Indian government has said the ban on toys was implemented on the grounds of 'public health and safety'. But some Indian analysts have suggested the move was aimed at shielding India's struggling toy industry against a flood of Chinese imports. The Chinese statement said deputy commerce minister Zhong Shan had met in Beijing recently with Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao to discuss the issue. "China hopes that in a period during which the world economy faces grim challenges, India takes cautious and prudent trade remedy measures, otherwise bilateral trade relations could be seriously impacted," the Chinese statement said. Apart from the toy ban, the commerce ministry complained India had started 17 trade remedy investigations since October on products from China, including sodium carbonate and automobile tyres. It has also recently restricted the import of steel, chemical products and textile products from China, the ministry said. The state-run China Daily reported earlier that Beijing would likely ask the WTO Dispute Settlement Body if the Indian ban violated the trade body's rules. Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath has denied there are any violations. "India is a responsible country and before we take any action we make sure that it should be WTO-compatible," Nath said. The dispute highlights growing protectionist sentiment around the world, with several countries hit by the economic slowdown rushing to protect domestic industries. India's toy industry, which employs two million people, has long protested about the flood of cheaper Chinese toy imports. Chinese products have grabbed 60 per cent of India's toy market.
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