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The Power of an American Pencil
Our Buy American Mention of the Week!
by Roger Simmermaker
February 16, 2002

As further evidence that buying American does not just apply to big-ticket items, America could be in danger of losing the pencil industry unless patriotic consumers raise their awareness. In 1991, just 16% of all pencils came from overseas. Today, however, almost half of the pencils bought by Americans come from overseas. The main source of stress in this industry is China. In 1994, the U.S. actually held its ground and imposed large antidumping duties on Chinese pencils, and imports dropped off substantially. But as manufacturing became both cheaper and more efficient in China, the volume of imports rose to their previous level by the year 2000.

Once again, the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association (WIMA) lobbied hard for protection. The lobbying paid off, and duties were set as high as 53%.

Currently, the two biggest pencil-makers Sanford (a division of Newell Rubbermaid) and Dixon Ticonderoga are U.S. owned, but Dixon realizes that even with the tariffs, pencils can still be imported cheaper than they can be manufactured.

What can you do? When you buy pencils, make sure they are made in U.S.A., and made by either Sanford, Dixon Ticonderoga or another American brand name (BIC is owned by the French). If the American consumer buys only American made pencils and leaves Chinese pencils to rot on the shelves, no trade policy of the U.S. Congress can reverse such circumstances. We as consumers have the power create our own prosperity. Let's use it!


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