FTC: Made In The USA Comments Concerning Robert E. Daniels--P894219
August 11, 1997
Mr. Donald S. Clark
Re:"Made in USA" Comment, FTC File No. P894219
Dear Secretary Clark:
Tile Council of America Inc. (TCA) submits this letter in response to the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) request for comments concerning the proposed "Guides for the Use of U.S. Origin Claims product advertising and labeling strongly opposes the proposed dilution of the all or virtually all standard to a substantially all" standard. The proposed action, if implemented, would cause considerable confusion in the ceramic tile marketplace among distributors and consumers and ultimately economically injure true USA ceramic tile manufacturers, including TCA's member companies. TCA notes that it filed comments with the FTC on this issue on May 24, 1996 urging retention of the "all or virtually all" standard, and respectfully incorporates those comments in this submission.
TCA is an association representing more than forty American manufacturers of ceramic tile and related products. Together, these companies produce well over 50 percent of the ceramic tile manufactured in the United States and, of equal importance here, supply related components and materials to virtually the entire domestic industry. Currently, over 60 percent of the ceramic tile sold in the United States already is imported and, therefore, it is extremely important to the U.S. ceramic tile industry that all imported ceramic tile be correctly marked and that the "Made in USA" label is not diluted, obfuscated or misused. As such, TCA is especially concerned and disappointed with the FTC's proposed weakening of the "all or virtually all" standard by use of a substantially all" standard.
In these comments, TCA first briefly describes how tile is manufactured. The importance and relevance of use of the term "Made in USA" then is described. TCA then addresses why the proposed standard is inadequate and inappropriate in determining when a product may be labeled "Made in USA." In doing so, TCA respectfully submits that the "all or virtually all" standard is the only appropriate standard to determine whether ceramic tile is "Made in USA".
Ceramic tile is a surfacing product, usually relatively thin in relation to facial area, made from clay or a mixture of clay and other ceramic materials and fired to a temperature sufficiently high to produce specific physical properties and characteristics. Unglazed tile is a hard, dense tile of uniform composition throughout, deriving color and texture from the materials of which the body is made. Glazed tile has an impervious facial finish composed of ceramic materials fused to the body of the tile.
Correct use of the "Made in USA" label is extremely important with respect to the ceramic tile market. It is TCA's experience, and the experience of our member companies, that customers are strongly influenced to purchase "Made in USA" marked tile. It is the critical distinguishing factor on which the entire U.S. industry is able to compete for the remaining 40 percent of this market not already controlled by foreign imports. When "Made in USA" is marked on ceramic tile, it conveys distinctive quality and high reliability. Retail consumers of ceramic tile rely on the "Made in USA" label and benefit from use of the label for the following reasons.
TCA strongly opposes any change from the "all or virtually all" standard to determine use of the "Made in USA" claim. Specifically, TCA supports use of the "Made in USA" label only when "all or virtually all" of the component parts were made in the United States and "all or virtually all" of the labor in manufacturing the ceramic tile is performed in the United States. As discussed above, ceramic tile is produced by forming clay (or other non-metallic substances) into specific shapes and heating it to certain temperatures. The only logical and workable application of the "Made in USA" claim must include both the raw materials and the labor. Ceramic tile producers in the United States generally use U.S. origin raw materials such as clay, glaze and frits, and bake that clay in kilns located in the United States. The quality and reliability benefits of tile "Made in USA" are the result of both the domestic sourcing of raw materials and the domestic manufacturing process. Tile manufactured in the United States of clay dug in Mexico or tile manufactured in a Mexican plant by Mexican workers from U.S. clay clearly do not meet the "Made in USA" expectations of U.S. consumers.
The proposed standard, based on a lower percentage of materials or labor sourced in the United States, would not afford consumers the confidence of ceramic tile truly produced and sourced in the U.S., and would diminish the value of the "Made in USA" label. For example, where the raw materials of a glazed ceramic tile can account for up to 30 percent of the total value of the finished ceramic tile, the proposed standard could effectively allow ceramic tile produced in Mexico with Mexican labor, but with U.S. origin raw materials, to be labeled "Made in USA". Similarly, depending on the tile in question, if Mexican clay and glaze is imported into the U.S. and then shaped and fired into a tile, the proposed rule could allow these products to be labeled "Made in USA." This would confuse consumers and injure the true U.S. manufacturers, i.e. those who source all or virtually all of the raw materials domestically and produce the ceramic tile domestically. This cannot be the intent of the FTC, yet it is the likely effect of the proposed standard.
For the reasons set forth above, TCA respectfully submits that the FTC withdraw its proposed "Guides for the Use of U.S. Origin Claims" and retain the "all or virtually all" in determining when ceramic tile is "Made in USA." In addition, the "all or virtually all" standard should be applied with reference to the U.S. origin of both the raw materials and labor.
Robert E. Daniels/by TJT
Robert E. Daniels
P.0. Box 1787 Clemson, South Carolina 29633-178 Tel (864) 646-TILE Fax (864) 646-2821