Rockets' red glare

US independence day fireworks, brought to you by China

July 3, 2013
July 3, 2013

This item has been corrected.

Across the United States tomorrow, Americans will commemorating colonial America’s rejection of imperial British rule. But the fireworks they will set off almost all came from China, a nation not known for its democratic values.

The American Pyrotechnics Association estimates that only 6.7 million of the 207.5 million pounds of fireworks Americans bought in 2012 (pdf) were manufactured in the United States. Ninety-nine percent of backyard fireworks are imported from China, according to Julie Heckman, executive director of the trade group. Commercial fireworks, which pack more punch and are regulated by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, are more likely to be made in the US.

US Census Bureau trade statistics show the US imported 201 million pounds of fireworks last year, and 96% of those came from China. US imports of Chinese fireworks spike in May, as they do every year, in anticipation of the July 4th holiday.

Fireworks-imported-from-China_chart

Chinese firework imports in May have averaged $40.7 million over the last 10 years, adjusting for inflation since 2005. This year’s imports were 5.8% larger than average but only up 0.66% from 2012.

Photo: Reuters / Brian Snyder

Correction (July 3): An earlier version of a graphic accompanying this story incorrectly stated the portion of fireworks consumed in the US from China.

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