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Fred Skillern

Former Hamilton County Commissioner Fred Skillern, whose souvenir business imports goods from China, said it may take years for that nation to sort out its economic troubles.

"It's usually a two-year cycle," he said Wednesday. "It may take a while to shake out."

Skillern's company, Dixie Souvenirs, has been doing business in China since before former President Richard Nixon's historic visit in 1972 normalized diplomatic relations with the Asian giant.

Skillern said his Soddy-Daisy business still imports from China, though in recent years he has shifted to Taiwan because of delivery problems.

"The price was about the same," Skillern said.

China's devaluation this week of its currency, the yuan, may appear to make goods cheaper than Taiwan, he said. But, Skillern said, some of the items he imports are plastics and petroleum based, and China is a big importer of oil.

"It hasn't been devalued," he said.

Skillern also said that over the years, some of the Chinese "got rich and didn't want to do the hard labor anymore."

Even for much bigger companies than his, Skillern said those businesses have found the Chinese not as easy to deal with as they thought.

"Things are not as profitable for these other companies," he said.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

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