FTC: Made In The USA Comments Concerning Peter J. Visclosky--P894219
PETER J. VISCLOSKY
CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
May 20, 1997
Mr. Donald Clark
Dear Secretary Clark:
I write to oppose the Federal Trade Commission's proposed new standard for using the "Made in the USA" claim in production and advertising. The proposed new standard would significantly weaken the "all or virtually all" standard, and I must voice my strong objection.
Under current law, "Made in the USA" claims cannot be made if a product contains more than a small amount of foreign content. The proposed new standard would require that, for a product to be called "Made in the USA," it must be "substantially all" made in the U.S. The proposed new standard defines a product as "substantially all" made in the U.S. if: (1) U.S. manufacturing costs are at least 75 percent of manufacturing costs and the product was last substantially transformed in the U.S.; or (2) the product was last substantially transformed in the U.S. and all significant parts or components of the product were last substantially transformed in the U.S.
On the surface, the proposed new standard would seem to be a reasonable attempt to allow products made with a majority or American components to bear the "Made in the USA" label. However, it is not necessary to change the current standard in order to deal with products containing foreign parts or labor. The current standard does not preclude any manufacturers, with such foreign content or involvement, from choosing to advertize or label their products as "Made in the USA," so long as they qualify for that claim.
The historical test adopted by the FTC and the Congress for unqualified "Made in the USA" claim is, as it should be, rigorous, but not unfair. It should continue to be reserved for those products that can truthfully meet it. For those products that, as a result of globalization of production, include foreign components or labor, the FTC should continue to make available the alternative of a qualified "Made in the USA" label.
The proposed new standard would cause the "Made in the USA" label to have less value to the manufacturers of products with labor and components of "all or virtually all" domestic origin, and to the consumers who prefer such products. For American manufacturers who utilize foreign parts or labor, a qualified "Made in the USA" standard remains a viable and reasonable option. The present standards, despite their stringent requirements, have been adhered to by manufacturers for many years. These manufacturers have proudly met the FTC requirements and use the "Made in the USA" label in the advertisement of their products.
I am equally concerned that the proposed new standard will serve to confuse and deceive the American consumer. Most Americans assume that a product advertised as "Made in the USA" is wholly produced and manufactured in this country. The proposed new standard will allow the "Made in the USA" label to be used on products that have up to 25 percent foreign content. In my view, that is deceptive advertising. Retaining the current standard will ensure that, when American consumers purchase products advertised as "Made in the USA," they are getting products made in this country with "all or virtually all" American components.
Once again, I urge the FTC not to implement to the proposed new standard, and to retain the current standards. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Peter J. Visclosky
Peter J. Visclosky