ABRIN 2012: Feira Brasileira de Brinquedos – Brazilian Toy Fair
São Paulo – Brazil – April 2012
Before I started earning a decent living wage in Brazil, I could only afford the luxury of buying brinquedos for my sons on special dates: birthdays, Dia das Crianças (Children’s Day, October 12), and Christmas Day. It was often difficult to buy that special toy they coveted. After former President Collor de Mello (March 1990 to December 1992) opened Brazil to imports in 1990, cheaper toys from China – eye-catching and novel – filled stores downtown and at street vendors.
By 1995, the influx of toys from China had crippled Brazil’s toy industry, forcing the government to file an antidumping investigation against China with the World Trade Organization. To provide a level playing field for local manufacturers, the government raised the import tax on toy imports and imposed Brazilian quality and safety certification for imported toys intended for children up to 14 years of age.
These restrictions on toy imports did not deter Ceará Importers Ltda (fictitious name), where I worked as import manager, from importing toys for Dia das Crianças and Christmas, the periods of greatest demand. The import process for these products became more time-consuming and onerous as I had to forward a sample of each toy to a laboratory approved by INMETRO – Instituto Nacional de Metrologia, Qualidade e Tecnologia for quality and safety control. While samples are no longer required for obtaining the INMETRO quality and safety seal and Import License, careful control and planning are still essential for imports to arrive in time for peak sales.
Despite all these measures to restrict imports from China and make locally manufactured toys more competitive, Chinese-made toys continue to dominate the Brazilian market. In 2011, China accounted for over 85 percent of total toy imports, valued at US$358.6 million. The increase in the import tax from 20% to 35% for 14 types of toys did not achieve the 15 percent growth in national sales expected by the Associação Brasileira dos Fabricantes de Brinquedos (ABRINQ). The year ended with 70 percent of sales for imported toys against 30 percent for national production. ABRINQ’s hope is for Brazilian toy manufacturers to close 2012 with 60 percent of total sales. Vamos ver.
At Ceará Importers, our imported toys from the USA and China were a success on the local market. The children’s joy on seeing our selection of toys made up for all the frustration of the importation process. The large and colorful Chinese marbles captivated my sons, turning them into marble collectors.
Toys shine at Christmastime and reap rewards for producers. Children’s fascination for toys is not determined by their country of origin. As parents, buying our children’s dream toys boils down to the cost. The toy industry’s success depends upon its ability to remain innovative and competitive, as well as the Brazilian government’s provision of favorable fiscal and market conditions necessary for its survival.