12:01pm

Mon August 13, 2012
Planet Money

A U.S. Mill Re-Opens To Meet China's Rising Demand For Diapers

Originally published on Mon August 13, 2012 12:09 pm

A Virginia paper mill that shut down a few years back is reopening to meet rising demand from China and India.

The mill is "gearing up to begin producing fluff pulp—the soft, white absorbent used in diapers, tampons, and some medical bandages," this morning's WSJ reports.

Fluff pulp is apparently made from the fibers of a type of pine tree that grows well in the Southern U.S., so it makes sense to make it in U.S. factories and ship it to Asia.

U.S. workers selling stuff to the rising middle class in China and India is, of course, good news. And it's the sort of thing we're likely to hear more of, for several reasons.

* China's leaders want to shift the economy away from an over-reliance on construction projects and toward more middle-class consumption.

* Millions of Chinese people are moving into the middle class.

* Made-in-America is a mark of quality in China.

* China's currency has been getting stronger relative to the dollar, which makes U.S. products are cheaper for Chinese consumers.

One exporter we visited in Shanghai last year said she saw a big future in selling U.S. imports in China.

"We would love to buy products from the U.S.," she said. "We have seen what is happening in China, so we believe the market needs to turn."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Tags: