BEIJING, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- Export of China's toys hit 8.63 billion U.S. dollars in 2008, up 1.8 percent year on year, but the growth rate slowed substantially according to General Administration of Customs statistics on Saturday.
The growth rate was 18.5 percentage points lower than that in 2007 as 49 percent of the country's export-oriented toy companies shut, leaving 4,388 companies.
The decline was mainly the result of shrinking demand amid the world economy downturn, said Customs.
"Toys are not a life necessity, so people's demand for that kind of product declined in the face of a grim economic situation," the Customs' report said.
Some countries' moves in raising products safety standards and tightening quality supervision also prevented some Chinese toys from entering overseas markets, the report said.
The United States and the European Union were the biggest toy export destinations for China. Exports for those two regions were 5.79 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for 67.1 percent of the total toy export value.
Toy export to the U.S. was valued at 3.58 billion U.S. dollars last year. The year-on-year growth rate dropped to 3.1 percent from 14.2 percent in 2007.
Toy export to the EU was valued at 2.21 billion U.S. dollars, representing an increase of 9.3 percent year on year. The growth rate was 21.1 percentage points lower than in 2007.
China is the world biggest toy production base.