President's Letter - June 2009
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
- 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
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
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
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!