The toy importers of India, a largely unorganised sector, has joined hands in protest against the proposed increase in import duty from current 20 per cent to 60 per cent.
There are 30 crore children in India in the age group of upto 14 years – and this imposition of 200 per cent increase, would put a burden on consumers pocket. The toy importers have already met Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and are expected to meet Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal next week.
In Mumbai, the United Toys Association staged a protest at the historic Azad Maidan in Mumbai, on Monday, and demanded a rollback.
As high as 85 per cent of the toys are imported, out of which 75 per cent from China.
Increase in import duty will lead upto 100 % surge in the MRP of existing toys in India, which means a toy costing Rs. 500 will be priced at Rs. 800 to Rs. 1,000 after the imposition of 200% hike in import duty on toys.
Talking to reporters, Farooq M Shabdi, president, United Toys Association said: “It is estimated that within 3-4 months after the hike in import duty on toys, there will be a scarcity of toys in India.”
Traders and retailers will not be able to bare such high import duty and stop importing toys. On the other hand, Indian manufacturers will not be able to fulfill the overwhelming demand of toys and in next 3-4 months the stock of toys will be exhausted, Shabdi said.
The most impacted range of toys will be innovative toys which includes STEM toys, Robots, Flying toys, Radio control and battery operated toys, as major part of toys manufactured in India are non-function toys and board games. In fact, some of the domestic manufacturer need to import components and toy parts too.
“The government’s budget proposal is a bid to balance trade deficit by including toys in non-essential commodity. However, industry experts say that the country’s current toy production cannot fill the gap left by imported toys for the Indian market.
“We are against such unjustifiable hike in import duty on essential commodities that are not manufactured enough in India”, said Abdullah Sharif, vice president, United Toys Association.
The move will also hurt 5,00,000+ people – toy traders, retailers and axillary across India.
“As toy prices soar and sales decline, the very livelihoods of the toy traders and retailers will be adversely affected by the move; leading to closure of businesses and rise in unemployment. In the coming days, we will issue a memorandum to the government, appealing to revoke the unreasonable decision of increasing import duty on toys. We stand firm against the proposed hike of 200% in import duty on toys”, Abdullah added.
The protesters have demanded that the Indian government treat toys as an essential commodity, akin to educational books for children.