Chicago’s Chinatown and their Chinese Imports

Gifts R Us in Chicago's Chinatown

Gifts R Us in Chicago‘s Chinatown

Chicago’s Chinatown is rich in culture and is diverse in products to purchase. China was the United States’ largest supplier of goods imports in 2011, totaling near $400 billion in sales, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Just January alone, China imported more than $37 million worth of goods to the United States, according to the United States Census Bureau.

Their import sales to the U.S. are up 290 percent since 2001 and imports from China accounted for 18.1 percent of overall U.S. imports in 2010.

Chicago’s Chinatown whole sale and retail shop, Gifts R Us, sells a variety of Chinese made products, but store manager, Yat Wong, said only five percent are imported from China.

Two stores down from Wong’s store is Pacific Furniture Inc., on the corner of Cermak and Wentworth, whose manager said roughly 90 percent of their items are imported from China. Furniture and bedding is one of the largest categories of imports from China, taking in $20 billion in sales.

Machinery and Electrical machinery are the top two import categories, bringing $194 billion in import sales into the U.S. combined, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

U.S. imports of agricultural products from China totaled $4.0 billion in 2011, the 5th largest supplier of these imports. Leading categories include: processed fruit and vegetables ($949 million), fruit and vegetable juices ($559 million), snack foods (including chocolate) ($203 million) and spices ($123 million).

The Chinatown in Chicago is successful in meeting the needs of these early immigrants. The dozen or more family associations were the social glue and surrogate families in the early days. They offered food, housing and employment information to new arrivals, according to Chinatown’s website. 


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