Delayed China-made fireworks dim Fourth of July celebrations
Published: Jul 02, 2021 06:07 PM
People watch fireworks exploding over the East River during US Independence Day celebration in New York, the United States, July 4, 2019. (Xinhua/Han Fang)

People watch fireworks exploding over the East River during US Independence Day celebration in New York, the United States, July 4, 2019. (Xinhua/Han Fang)

On US Independence Day, held every July 4, Americans may not see as many China-made fireworks lighting up the skies in Washington, New York and Las Vegas, as they are caught up in the global supply chain disruption resulting from the pandemic.

"Firework orders from the US have increased by about 30 percent compared to last year, but they are in short supply brought by transportation pressure," Wen Guanghui, president of the Liuyang Firework Exports Association, told the Global Times on Friday. 

Wen explained that the disrupted supply has brought about rocketing prices for containers, which have increased by 3-4 times, and "it makes freight prices even higher than the price of goods themselves."

Wen's comments were echoed by producers. Zhong Fang, a manager at Dongxin Firework, one of the largest fireworks exporters in Liuyang, Central China's Hunan Province told the Global Times on Friday that export transportation to the US is jammed, saying "for many fireworks, it is hard to find the containers to deliver them." 

China, the home of fireworks manufacturing in the world, has provided a vast majority of backyard consumer fireworks and professional display fireworks used in the US, and market insiders predicted the portion could be as much as 95 percent. 

As a giant fireworks consumption country, the US has witnessed rising fireworks consumption in recent years. Data from American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) showed that the country's fireworks consumption reached more than 4 million pounds in 2020, twice that in 2003. 

APA warned in June that consumer fireworks retailers are reporting a shortage in inventories nationwide. 

The consumer fireworks industry has experienced delays in fireworks manufacturing in China, a shortage of containers in China to load the fireworks into ocean vessels, limited capacity on ocean vessels to move fireworks and extreme transportation delays with multi-modal shipments, APA said.  

"Approximately 30 percent of the consumer fireworks needed for this Independence Day either didn't make it out of China, are sitting on ocean vessels in the Pacific Ocean waiting to berth at the ports, or they've been sitting at the West Coast ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for 9-12 weeks waiting to be put on the rail," according to Julie L. Heckman, Executive Director of the APA.

Wen from Liuyang Firework Exports Association said the halt in production is due to the high temperature as well.

Due to safety concerns, local officials in Liuyang, China's home of fireworks, ordered all fireworks and firecracker manufacturers to suspend production from June 19, because the high temperature season is approaching. The suspension will last till August 31. 

Although China's export volume of fireworks and firecrackers has decreased year on year since 2018, market watchers said 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.  

Customs statistics showed that in 2020, the export volume and value have dropped by about 20 percent year-on-year, which is the lowest value in seven years. Liuyang witnessed both declines of delivery batches and value by 26 percent in the first eight months of last year.