FTC: Made In The USA Comments Concerning Robert E. Swift--P894219
1045 AVENUE OF THE
AMERICAS · NEW YORK, NY 10018
CRAFTED WITH PRIDE IN U.S.A. COUNCIL, INC.
July 30, 1997
Office of the Secretary
Re: "MADE IN USA POLICY COMMENT"
Dear Mr. Secretary:
The Crafted with Pride in U.S.A. Council submitted to the Office of the Secretary, Federal Trade Commission, on January 11, 1996 an extensive review of the numerous independent research studies that corroborate the very positive perception held by American consumers of a Made in U.S.A. label in apparel and textiles.
Further documentation of the powerful, selling appeal of Made in U.S.A. identification was provided in the March 26-27 workshop conducted by the Federal Trade Commission. The Council was emphatic at that time, and remains so to this day, that Made in U.S.A. identification must be preserved for products that are made in the U.S.A. and also contain 100% U.S. components.
The Proposed Guides for the Use of U.S. Origin Claims, being considered by the Federal Trade Commission to allow a product to be identified as Made in U.S.A. when up to 25% of its manufacturing cost could involve foreign components would be tantamount to a Federal license to deceive the American public and compromise the integrity of what has been a well-recognized reassurance of product quality, and a label that translates into jobs in the United States. If the proposed guidelines are implemented, you are selling us (U.S.) down the river!!
The Commission regulates claims of U.S. origin, such as "Made in U. S. A.," pursuant to its statutory authority under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibits "unfair or deceptive acts or practices." Cases brought by the Commission beginning over 50 years ago established the principle that it was deceptive for a marketer to promote a product with an unqualified "Made in U.S.A." claim unless that product was wholly of domestic origin. By adopting the proposed guidelines, the Commission would be in violation of the very statute (Section 5), that granted it authority to prohibit unfair or deceptive practices.
I have often heard, "I can't find it in the U.S.!" No wonder, when we are allowing our U.S. manufacturing base to migrate off-shore at the expense of higher paying U.S. manufacturing jobs.
The proposed guidelines would have a deleterious effect on the appeal of a Made in U.S.A. label as consumers come to understand that it is tainted and no longer represents the purity to which we have been accustomed. Research has shown that Americans want to know where a product was made, and the FTC proposals would permit deception and generate distrust and confusion. Your proposals would weaken the value and appeal of a Made in U.S.A. label while sanctioning misleading deceitful and false claims.
Those in our industry with whom I have long been associated have been ingrained in complying with "truth in advertising" requirements. You would be "lowering the bar;" i.e., the standard with which we have diligently complied over many years.
The Crafted with Pride in U.S.A. Council would suggest that the Federal Trade Commission not adopt the proposed guidelines. Adoption would obfuscate the meaning of a U.S.A. label. It would accelerate the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs and the deterioration of the standard of living of those American in the lowest 80% income brackets.
I am confident that a Made in U.S.A. product identification has more appeal to Americans than: a 90% Made in U. S. A. label, which in turn has more appeal than a "75% Made in U. S.A." label, and in turn a, "50% Made in U.S.A." identification.
Consequently, the Council would suggest that if any change is to be implemented in the country- of-origin identification requirements for products other than those that are currently mandated by Federal law, that the actual percentage of U.S. manufacturing cost should be stipulated. If a manufacturer has to calculate the actual percentage of U.S. vs. foreign costs, why not require that percentage to be utilized in the product identification? Some manufacturers will argue that it will necessitate making multiple product identifications, but they have to identify each product by a Stock Keeping Unit Number, a bar code, etc, so the added cost is negligible.
Research over an extended time period has documented that a Made in U.S.A. label can generate substantial sales increases for domestic manufacturers. Allowing Made In U.S.A. to be used on any products with a significant import content dilutes its value on all products, even those for which country of origin identification is currently covered by Federal statute. Since the consumer can not be expected to carry around different meanings for Made in U.S.A. depending on product category, any change would generate delusion.
The well-being of so many Americans is dependent on your decision.
Robert E. Swift
Robert E. Swift