Trade Policy Recommendations to Promote American Jobs
By Art Harman, Policy Analyst tv@ConservativeUSA.org
‘Point of Purchase’ Labeling for Country of Origin
Given the dramatic increase in online, catalog, TV and other direct-response sales; millions of customers today are entirely deprived of the ability to learn where it was made before they have purchased it; undermining the purpose of existing origin labeling laws.
These customers can’t look at the label until it arrives in the mail. Online and catalog listings never state “Made in ____” unless it’s something they are proud of like “Belgian chocolates,” or “Shetland wool.” At best, you might see simply “imported.” Telephone sales clerks may know nothing more than limited sales information on their computer.
Therefore The Conservative Caucus recommends that Congress amend existing law to require "point of purchase labeling;" that is, the origin should be clearly stated before the customer buys it in any existing or future sales venue. This means a "Made in ____" notice would be required in all online product descriptions; and similarly listed in mail order catalogs. Telephone sales agents would likewise be required to inform the customer of the origin. The idea would be to duplicate the store shelf where you can pick up a product, read the label, and then make your decision whether or not to place it in your shopping cart.
Radio, TV, web or other ads which are not the final point of purchase--they just direct customers to a store, website or 800-number for the actual purchase--would not need to mention origin.
This change in the law would simply update existing laws to the reality that in remote purchasing situations, the customer is not able to look at the product for this information. The burden on retailers would be very low, particularly given the ease of adding and changing information on websites.
How to Improve Voluntary ‘Made in USA’ Labeling
The Conservative Caucus encourages manufacturers to voluntarily provide better labeling for their American-made products. In today’s economy, this can be a sales advantage, and surveys show Americans do not like the loss of American products and jobs.
A great many products have tiny origin lettering or none at all; and thus missing the opportunity to promote a desirable feature to consumers. Foods sometimes just say "packed by" or "distributed by," and while they are not required to state "made in USA," it sure would be good for them--particularly given concerns people have over the safety of Chinese foods.
Making the link to jobs may be more effective
than just being made here.
Improved labeling could include a flag and/or front-of-the-package “Made in USA” lettering. Even more effective could be a little logo with wording like "American Made! American Jobs!" to link the purchase to jobs. What do you hear in the news? A demand for jobs, the unemployment figures. This is the message which may boost American product sales.
It may not take a big increase in demand for US products for manufacturers and retailers to notice; retailers may then start to highlight them; and manufacturers would fill the demand and consider expanding their US product lines.
Just a few years ago, with a booming economy and few concerns about jobs, many saw little reason to buy American; they did not connect manufacturing to their own jobs or those of their friends. But today, most people are personally affected or know someone affected by the economic crisis. Therefore Americans would respond far better today to such campaigns, than they did in the past--as long as the connection is made to jobs.
The starting point is to have products well labeled, so customers can easily make the choice.