Which U.S. companies are paying a premium for foreign paper towels?

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that some of the world’s largest companies have paid as much as $1 billion in fees to suppliers of paper towels to China.

Among the firms that are profiting are Amazon.com Inc., Walmart.com, General Electric Co., Pfizer Inc., Procter & Gamble Co., Nike Inc., Starbucks Corp., and PepsiCo Inc. The paper towels are a critical component of the global supply chain, which includes everything from pharmaceuticals to meat products.

The United States has been a major supplier of paper towel to China for more than a decade.

U.K.-based Staples, for example, bought Staples USA in 2000 and has been supplying paper towels and other products to the Chinese market since 2008.

In January, Reuters reported that the U.N. Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora had ordered China to stop using animal fur as a raw material and to allow the import of animal skins.

A spokesperson for Staples declined to comment.

The Reuters report came just days after another U.C. Berkeley paper towel supplier, Uniqlo, said it was paying a $50 million fine by the European Union to settle charges that it had illegally sold its raw paper towels.