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Short on Wood, China Importing American-Made Chopsticks

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US MANUFACTURING LIVES!
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Your iPad is made in China.

So are Boeing 787 rudders.

As is virtually everything else Americans buy:



But, in what may be one of the millennium's more unexpected twists, a manufacturing outfit in Americus, Georgia is exporting millions of pairs of chopsticks to China.

"Most chopsticks are made in China, where several hundred manufacturers turn out 63 billion pairs annually. But they are running short of wood," writes Philip Graitcer of Voice of America News.

“Rural Georgia and the cities of rural Georgia, they’re blessed with tons of natural resources," David Garriga, head of the local economic development council, tells Graitcer. "The Pacific Rim, especially areas of China and Japan, they’ve run out of wood, but we have an abundance of it."

Not only does Georgia have an abundance of wood, it has an abundance of the right kind of wood.

According to Graitcer, "sweet gum and poplars grow like weeds" in the central part of the state, and "these trees make perfect chopsticks," as "their wood is pliable, straight and has a nice color."

That makes Georgia chopsticks "especially attractive to consumers since, unlike Asian chopsticks, they do not need to be artificially lightened with chemicals and bleach," he explains.



“Right now we are making about two million pairs of chopsticks per day but we are increasing," Jae Lee, president of Georgia Chopsticks, tells Graitcer. "End of this month, we’ll have seven machines coming in, so it’ll increase to like four million per day. End of this year, we’ll produce 10 million per day.”

Georgia Chopsticks is also responsible for creating real jobs in a town saddled with a 12% unemployment rate.

“When we’re fully staffed, possibly within a year, we’ll hire about 150 people,” Linda Hawkins, the chopstick factory’s general manager, told Sam Fulwood III of the Center for American Progress.



The economic council's Garriga has a firm grasp of the irony at work:

“Suddenly here’s a huge nation, fastest growing in the world, that finances part of our national debt, and here we are making their basic products and shipping it to them, like they’ve done for us for years. It’s just kind of a reverse.”

A snapshot of downtown Americus helps illustrate just how spectacular the entire situation is -- that someone here:



Is eating with utensils made here:



Atlanta's WXIA-TV has more:

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