Money & Business

Could Tariffs Hurt the Fourth of July? A Fireworks Group Says Yes

By / Jun 24, 2019 (michalz86/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

The American Pyrotechnics Association, whose members depend on Chinese manufacturers, says that proposed tariffs could lead fireworks displays to go dark. The group is one of many speaking out.

A lot of associations are feeling the impacts of the trade war between the U.S. and China—but perhaps none more explosively than the American Pyrotechnics Association.

APA, whose primary product is closely associated with the Fourth of July, argued last week before U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that fireworks should not be included on the list of proposed tariffs of goods from China.

In her comments to Lighthizer, APA Executive Director Julie Heckman noted that the association supported many of the goals around trade relations with China, but said that American jobs in the fireworks industry would be negatively affected by the proposal—in large part because nearly all consumer fireworks and three-quarters of professional grade fireworks are produced in China, largely through two dominant companies.

“Tariffs on fireworks and other pyrotechnic products would raise the costs on American businesses which rely on imports from China, and their downstream customers,” she said in her comments. “Uniquely, in our case, nonprofits and small municipalities nationwide will suffer significantly and may be forced to forgo their Independence Day fireworks displays.”

And while the 25 percent tariffs are at a proposal stage at this point, even the mere threat of their potential implementation is leading to price increases during the current fireworks season, according to Quartz.

APA, whose members sell most of their annual product in July, warns that the effect might be even more drastically felt among professionals that put on public fireworks displays, and U.S.-based companies that distribute fireworks, which are largely dependent on China’s existing infrastructure.

“The U.S. will never be able to manufacture in the quality or quantity of fireworks that the U.S. market demands even if the industry desired to do so,” Heckman continued in her comments to Lighthizer. “The U.S. imports more than 270 million pounds of fireworks from China annually, nearly 10 times greater than 1976 import levels.”

In comments to MarketWatch, she added that there was a danger that some cities that once put on public fireworks displays will no longer do so.

“We’re concerned the heartland of America will be most affected in terms of their skies being dark on Independence Day,” Heckman told the outlet.

The $300 billion in tariffs threatened by the Trump administration, which have been opposed by many business groups, would affect wide swaths of the goods imported to the U.S., including consumer electronics, jewelry, and clothing. Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a key voice in opposition to the tariffs, raised concerns about “the escalation of tit-for-tat tariffs.”

They come on top of prior rounds of tariffs on approximately $250 billion in imports, affecting goods such as steel, solar panels, and washing machines.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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