On US Independence Day, which falls on July 4, Americans will see China-made fireworks lighting up the skies from Washington and New York to Las Vegas, Nevada despite an escalation of bilateral trade tensions.
The protracted China-US trade war has had little impact on Chinese fireworks exports to the US, some Chinese manufacturers said. Their sales to the US have gone as usual, with some seeing a slight increase.
“The fireworks for the US Independence Day celebration all left Chinese ports by mid-May. This year, sales were up 3 percent from 2018,” Qin Binwu, the chairman of Jinping Fireworks in East China’s Jiangxi Province, said over the weekend. He added that about 95 percent of the backyard consumer fireworks and professional display fireworks set off in the US come from China.
Th US so far has not imposed tariffs on Chinese fireworks exports. But US President Donald Trump has threatened to tax on the remaining $325 billion worth of Chinese exports to the US. Fireworks were on a detailed list released by the US trade representative’s office, and these products could face tariffs as high as 25 percent.
China’s exports of fireworks and firecrackers to the US stood at about $800 million in 2018, industry insiders said.
Most Chinese fireworks-makers have shifted their market focus as a result of the year-long trade war. Qin, who is also the vice president of the China Fireworks and Firecrackers Association (CFFA), said that Chinese makers have started to cultivate and expand sales channels in markets along the routes of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to hedge against uncertainties in the US market.
“It will take some time for sales in BRI countries to be equal to the US market, but Chinese manufacturers are prepared,” Qin said.
Deng Yuqun, chairman of Lidu Fireworks Corp, said over the weekend that even if import taxes are levied on China-made fireworks, Chinese producers still have a say in the matter because “it is extremely difficult for US importers to find replacements” that have the same quality as Chinese products.
“The tariffs will only hurt the interests of US retailers,” Huang Haihui, the secretary general of the CFFA, said. Huang said that last year, China’s dwindling supply of fireworks due to an environmental crackdown prompted complaints from US retailers, which had to turn to other sources such as Mexico and India – whose technology is inferior to Chinese fireworks companies’ to fill the gap in demand.
“China has an overwhelming edge in quality and price compared with rivals in Mexico, India, Spain and Japan thanks to a complete upstream and downstream industrial chain. Chinese manufacturers also excel in innovation and safety,” Deng said.
“Without Chinese fireworks, US consumers might have nothing to set off during festivals,” Wen Guanghui, the President of the Liuyang Firework Exports Association, said