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Marketplace Morning Report

Fireworks can’t get out of China

Scott Tong Jul 4, 2008
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Renita Jablonski: If you’re planning on watching some fireworks tonight, don’t take them for granted. Your local seller may have paid 40 percent more than last year to make the booms and the bangs happen. Supplies are tight. It goes back to the point of origin, and a transportation bottleneck. From Shanghai, Marketplace’s Scott Tong explains.


Scott Tong: Somewhere around 20 million pounds of fireworks are sitting in warehouses, stuck in China. They can’t ship out through the port of Shanghai, cuz it’s an Olympic city. And for safety reasons, no dangerous goods can come or go.

Authorities made two other big ports off-limits, too — there was an explosion at one this year, and customs cheating at the other.

Huang Wenhui manages a fireworks factory in Hunan province:

Huang Wenhui (voice of interpreter): We can’t use these two ports. So customers can’t get their products in time, especially those in the U.S. If we don’t have a reliable way to export our goods, we’ll die. Our clients will go somewhere else to fill their orders.

Somewhere else like low-wage India or Mexico.

The good news for the U.S. is a lot of American middlemen have enough fireworks in reserve for this Fourth of July. They just won’t be offering as many choices and colors. In other words, most shows will go on, but there might not be as much pop this year.

In Shanghai, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

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