Strangely, Americans once again celebrated their 1776 independence from Britain by blasting off millions of dollars of Chinese manufactured fireworks this year, only furthering their dependence on these Chinese imports. Chinese imports of fireworks account for nearly 99% of the U.S. market and most fireworks imports as well. For example, Chinese produced fireworks had a dollar value of $223.6 million in 2011, however with the high markup in the fireworks market, the industry generated $649 million in revenue from retail sales as well as an additional $318 from contracted fireworks display projects as well.
America does produce some fireworks, however American exports only account for just around $15.8 million dollars. A figure that is tiny compared to the Chinese dominance of the market. But, you can only expect China to dominate fireworks sales. In the middle ages about the same time that some monk was discovering gunpowder in Europe, in China gunpowder was also developed. While in Europe gunpowder quickly found itself used in warfare, in China gunpowder quickly found it’s way into fireworks for Chinese celebrations such as Chinese New Year.
And yes, the fireworks industry does lobby Congress, and with good results. Republican congressman Dan Benishek and Democratic U.S. Senator Carl Levin, both from Michigan have jointly introduced legislation meant to suspend import duties on imported fireworks. Fireworks lobby and manufacturers also spend about $2.3 million a year to influence legislation dealing with fireworks. The money splits roughly even between both parties with the Republicans probably getting a slightly larger share because of their dominance of Congress. But, because Chinese manufacturers take pride in the quality of their fireworks, fewer injuries than ever happen as a result of fireworks. Injuries are now down to just over 3 injuries for 100,000 pounds of fireworks sold, down from 8 injuries for every 100,000 pounds a few years ago.
Chinese safety regulations have made fireworks one of their safer consumer products, and better regulated than many of their exported products in terms of consumer safety. And indeed, further testing of samples of fireworks by various U.S. government agencies such as the ATF has also made fireworks much safer than the past, where it is often misuse or modification of fireworks that results in injury rather than the normal manufactured product.
China has had hundreds of years to perfect fireworks. No product from China is as traditional as are fireworks.