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On 16 April 2018, European Union (EU) informed1 World Trade Organization (WTO) on their concerns for India’s newly amended toy import policy2. EU demands clarifications from India including the rationale of policy changes, implementation of the regulation and validity period of test reports.
Previously, toys complying with international standards (i.e. ISO, EN 71, ASTM F963) which assessed by accredited ILAC laboratories3 can be imported to India. However, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) now mandates the imported toys must show compliance with Indian toy safety standards IS 9873 series and electrical toy standard IS 15644, and testing must be performed by the laboratories that are accredited by Indian National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL)4.
EU comments this new import rule places additional testing burden on the toy producers. The duplicate testing is costly and time-consuming but would add very limited value in terms of safety. India did not provide explanation for the rationale of the changes in policy and gave no chance for members to comment on the new import rule before its adoption. The new policy took effective immediately on 1 September 2017, but India notified WTO only on 7 December 2017.
EU urges India to address their concerns and accept toy producers to demonstrate the compliance by the relevant international standards as an alternative to the national BIS standards. Test reports should remain valid for a minimum of 36 months. India should consider granting NABL accreditation to international laboratories that are located outside of the country.
On 27 April 2018, Hong Kong (HK) reported5 India for ignoring their concerns submitted in October 2017. The Government also questions about the need for duplicated testing and test reports acceptance performed by NABL accredited laboratory contravenes the spirit of the ILAC and WTO.
Earlier in September 2017, the toy association in the US raised similar concerns6 on the Indian new toy import policy. The association advocates for an immediate stay of enforcement, and requests to keep the permission to use an International laboratory accredited by ILAC for testing.