Most consumers think that buying something made domestically will boost the economy. Unfortunately many don’t act in agreement with the notion they defend … Still, more than ever, the “Made In USA” label is luring consumers wishing to help reviving U.S. manufacturing and create jobs. But what does it take for a product to be labeled with the iconic label?
The set of rules established by the Federal Trade Commission in a 44-page book is quite complex, confusing, with guidelines authorizing the “American Made” stamps on products not as American as you could think. A company must be able to prove that their final products are assembled or processed in the United States. First, the FTC doesn’t require a systematical approval for the use of “Made In America”, doesn’t conduct controls on possible misuse of the label, except if it receives a complaint. But for each violation, fines may run very high.
Second,for products whose parts have been manufactured in one or several foreign countries, the claim “Made In America” must be decided under the “one step removed” rule. If your motorcycle jacket is made with leather from overseas but sewn in the USA, it can’t carry the label. But if the same jacket is made with US leather sewn together with thread made overseas, it can be labeled “Made In USA.”
Third, companies that can’t get all of their part components made in the USA can use what the FTC calls qualified “Made in USA” claims, such as “Made in USA From Imported Parts” or “Assembled In the USA” Big brands can benefit from the label while sourcing cheaper imported materials to cut costs. The argument is that if these companies would not benefit from these cheaper materials, they possibly would be smaller or disappear, increasing the unemployment rate in the US. A complex topic that I let you debate…