On this day in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. As always, this most American of holidays will be marked by parades, fireworks and backyard barbecues across the country. But there's little about the fireworks and flags that is made in America. Reuters
Happy 4th of July, everybody! We don't just mean everybody in the U.S., however. While Americans are celebrating Independence Day, Chinese manufacturers are celebrating too. Much like the other 364 days of the year, July 4 finds the American dollar going to products and goods made in China.
Starting with the very hallmark of the holiday: the American flag. Of the $3.8 million worth of stars and stripes imported last year to the U.S., $3.6 million worth came from China, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
Lawmakers in the House of Representatives are trying to stop the government from buying and flying flags made outside of the U.S. Last month, a bipartisan group of House legislators led by Iowa Democrat Rep. Bruce Braley introduced the “All-American Flag Act,” which would require the government to only buy flags from domestic companies.
The All-American Flag Act would require the federal government to purchase flags that contain 100 percent American-made materials, entirely manufactured in the U.S. Current law requires the government to purchase flags made of only 50 percent American-made materials.
Fireworks, which are an indispensable part of 4th of July celebrations, also come with the “Made in China” label.
The skies over the nation are graced with more than 14,000 Independence Day fireworks displays annually, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association, a trade group.
Last year, the value of fireworks imported from China was $218.2 million, which represents the bulk of all U.S. fireworks imported ($227.3 million). U.S. exports of fireworks, by comparison, came to just $11.7 million in 2012, with Israel purchasing more than any other country ($2.5 million), according to U.S. Census Bureau data. The American Pyrotechnics Association estimates that only 6.7 million of the 207.5 million pounds of fireworks Americans bought in 2012 were manufactured in the U.S.
In an emailed statement to Benzinga, the trade group’s executive director Julie Heckman said, “The U.S. fireworks industry relies on imports from China. Ninety-nine percent of the consumer or backyard fireworks are imported from China. Seventy five percent of the professional display fireworks are imported from China with about 5 percent domestic production, and the remaining 20 percent from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany and Japan.”
Over the past 12 years, consumer fireworks consumption has risen 40 percent while display fireworks consumption has fallen 37 percent.
Going down the holiday shopping list, those disposable dishes, utensils, cups, napkins and tablecloths are also largely outsourced to China, squaring with the U.S. trade deficit totaling $62 billion in paper, plastic and wood products to the country.
So, how authentic is this all-American holiday?