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Growth of toy exports stunted, Beijing reports

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BEIJING (AP) - The growth of China's toy exports slowed dramatically in the first quarter, hurt by higher production costs, a stronger currency and safety concerns, a state news agency said yesterday.

Toy exports from January through March grew by 3 percent, down from a 23.6 percent growth rate in the same period last year, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Toy exports for the quarter totaled $1.5 billion, the agency said, citing China's customs agency.

Xinhua blamed higher production costs and the rise of China's currency, the yuan, against the dollar, which pushes up prices of Chinese goods in markets where importers pay in dollars.

The yuan has fallen against the euro, which has helped to boost Chinese exports to Europe. But few importers outside Europe pay in euros, so those benefits have not been seen elsewhere.

Exports also were hurt by consumer concerns about the safety of Chinese toys after a series of warnings and recalls abroad, the report said.

Beijing has banned some toy makers from exporting due to safety concerns.

In the first quarter, toy exports to the United States fell 5.8 percent to $590 million, Xinhua said. Sales to Hong Kong, where many goods are re-exported to the United States and other foreign markets, were down 26.8 percent at $110 million.

Exports to Europe rose 14.8 percent to $380 million, Xinhua said.

Those three destinations accounted for 72.5 percent of China's toy exports, the agency said.

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