President's Letter - June 2009

Back to main page

Global Initiatives, Domestic Effects

The bumper sticker slogan “think globally, act locally” applies in reverse to the toy industry.  Issues and regulations launched a world away are affecting the toy business in the U.S.:

  • Phthalate bans imposed in the EU have been incorporated in the new U.S. federal toy regulations (albeit “temporarily”).
  • EU-like requirements for listing chemicals in toys (“REACH”) have been proposed in a dozen state legislatures.
  • An “International Consumer Product Safety Caucus” (ICPSC) has been formed by regulators around the world to work on “harmonizing” safety standards and test requirements.

There is more to come.  New proposals for governmental restrictions on marketing to children are emerging in Europe.  Global environmental concerns are already pushing retailers to impose packaging and “carbon” limits on vendors.  As a consequence, we must think about the impacts that regulations from overseas will have on our U.S. toy industry locally and act globally to address the initiatives at their source.

Accordingly, TIA is working with toy associations around the world to coordinate positions and strategies.  The TIA Safety Standards and Technical Committee (SSTC) has been meeting with its counterparts from the Toy Industries of Europe (TIE) to address standards and testing issues.  At the latest meeting of the International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI), former TIA Chairman Arnie Rubin was elected President and pledged to strengthen the organization to deal with emerging issues.  A “Roundtable” of global toy industry CEO’s has been formed under ICTI to engage corporate leaders in coordination efforts. 

TIA also is co-sponsoring with the U.S. government a conference on toy safety regulations for regulators from Pacific Rim nations (APEC).  Part of our effort to prevent regulations that emerge in other nations from affecting the U.S. toy market includes advocating the adoption by other nations of measures similar to our U.S. regulatory scheme.  The burgeoning trade between the U.S. and the emerging Pacific Rim nations offers a powerful counterweight to European influences in global regulations.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…..

Regulations to implement the requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) are emerging from the CPSC on schedule.  TIA is vigorously advocating for practical and reasonable regulations, and we have been pleased with some results and disappointed by others.  The latest concern, tracking label requirements, will become effective on August 14, despite our best efforts at postponement. 

In addition, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) announced last week that it is ready to accept applications for accrediting “Certification Bodies” to certify toys that meet the new federal requirements under TIA’s Toy Safety Certification Program (TSCP).  Toy companies soon will be able to apply to TSCP for certification of their toys to confirm that they comply with all federal requirements. 

Lastly, if there is any silver lining in the recessionary clouds that hang over our nation it may be that dozens of states that have been proposing yet another round of toy regulations have been largely distracted from those efforts by their desperate budget problems.  Citizens have little appetite for nuisance legislation when basic services like schools and health care are threatened.

Getting Your Money’s Worth

Effective advocacy for toy industry interests is what you expect from TIA.  But right now, what you need is immediate and tangible benefits to justify your dues expense.  We’ve got them for you. 

TIA’s member education offerings tackle important topics that could return your dues expense to you many times.  One-hour webinars can help you learn how to navigate the CPSIA requirements or utilize new communication tools like “Twitter.”   We’re also arranging for TIA members to receive special discounts at several conferences and events, including an Import conference in October and the Engage! Expo conference which will co-locate with Toy Fair 2010 in New York.

And, if you can spare the time, volunteer for membership on one of the TIA standing committees.  I promise you will get more than you give in time and effort. 

Finally, TIA needs every company in the toy industry to support its efforts in these challenging times.  If you know a toy company that is not a TIA member, encourage them to join.  Companies form trade associations to pool their resources to collectively address needs that they cannot address alone.  Non-members get a free ride.  We need their help. 

Enjoy your summer!

Carter Keithley