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Business trends

China's 1-cent masks drive US manufacturers to the brink

Small businesses cite national security in plea for federal aid

Masks are produced at a factory in La Verne, California, U.S. Many American mask makers are struggling to stay afloat as demand ebbs and Chinese competitors offer cheaper alternatives.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON -- American manufacturer Premium-PPE has seen its monthly mask production plunge nearly 90% from last year's peak, falling to 4 million to 5 million.

Idle equipment and piles of unsold merchandise fill its factory in the city of Virginia Beach. Its workforce, once boasting as many as 280 people, has shrunk to about 50. And the company blames cheap imports from China for its reversal of fortune.

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