Innovation helps toy exports boom
One of China's leading animation and toy producers, Guangdong Alpha Animation and Culture Co, used to depend on domestic market demand for growth.
"Innovation, helped by increased investment in research and development, has played a key role in the overseas business growth," said Su Jiangfeng, the company's deputy general manager.
Su said toy exports by the company — mainly to Europe, the United States and Asia — increased by more than 30 percent year-on-year to $57 million last year.
Overseas sales of Alpha's latest products, based on its popular animation series Super Wings, reached about $7 million last year.
Alpha, based in Shantou, Guangdong province, has developed a dominating position in the domestic market, with a market share of up to 50 percent in animations, according to Su.
"We have tried to produce value-added products to tap the international market," Su said.
Innovation, along with resumed overseas market demand for toys, helped to boost Chinese toymakers' exports last year amid a generally gloomy outlook for Chinese manufacturers.
According to the General Administration of Customs, in the first two months of this year, the country's imports and exports of toys grew by 3.5 percent year-on-year to 12.76 billion yuan ($1.96 billion). China's overall trade fell by 12.6 percent year-on-year in the same period.
Li Zhuoming, chairman of the Guangdong Toys Industrial Association, said, "The export growth was mainly due to increased efforts by Chinese companies in technological research and development."
Popular foreign and Chinese animation movies also helped to generate Chinese toy sales, Li said.
In Shantou, one of the major toy manufacturing and trade bases in Guangdong, toy exports increased by 13 percent year-on-year to more than $1.17 billion last year, according to a local customs source.
Toy processing factories in Chenghai, a district of Shantou — dubbed China's toy and gift export base — have also seen rapid business growth, according to Guo Zhuocai, chairman of the Chenghai Toys Industrial Association.
"A growing number of local toy processors have shifted to making smart toys," Guo said.
In addition to more overseas sales, Chinese toymakers will see increased domestic business, as a baby boom is expected in coming years with the introduction of the policy allowing couples to have a second child, Guo said.
"Domestic demand for toys will rise quickly, with a growing number of international manufacturers also keeping an eye on the Chinese market," Guo added.