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In general, goods imported into the United States must have a country of origin label unless excepted, but goods manufactured in the United States can be sold without any sort of "Made in the USA" label unless explicitly required. Requirements to label domestic content include automobiles and textile, wool, and fur products. Any voluntary claims made about the amount of U.S. content in other products must comply with the FTC’s Made in USA policy.
A Made in USA claim can be expressed (for example, "American-made") or implied. In identifying implied claims, the Commission focuses on the overall impression of the advertising, label, or promotional material. Depending on the context, U.S. symbols or geographic references (for example, U.S. flags, outlines of U.S. maps, or references to U.S. locations of headquarters or factories) may convey a claim of U.S. origin either by themselves, or in conjunction with other phrases or images.
In 1996 the FTC proposed that the requirement be stated as:
A product that includes foreign components may be called "Assembled in USA" without qualification when its principal assembly takes place in the U.S. and the assembly is substantial. For the "assembly" claim to be valid, the product's "last substantial transformation" also should have occurred in the U.S.A. A "screwdriver" assembly in the U.S. of foreign components into a final product at the end of the manufacturing process does not usually qualify for the "Assembled in USA" claim.
Country of origin labels are required on textiles, wools, furs, automobiles, most foods, and many other imports.
Examples of fraudulent practices involving imports include removing a required foreign origin label before the product is even delivered to the ultimate purchaser (with or without the improper substitution of a Made in USA label) and failing to label a product with the required country of origin.
There have been claims that products made in Usa located in Ōita Prefecture, Japan and exported to the US in the 1960s carried the label "MADE IN USA, JAPAN", in order for it to have an appearance that the product is "Made in USA". It is, however, a myth that Japan renamed the town "Usa" following World War II so that goods exported from Japan could be labeled as such. The town had this name long before the war, at least from 8th century, and is not where the majority of Japanese industry is located.
|"Made-in-the-USA has enormous appeal to the rising Chinese middle class."|
Many manufacturers use the Made in the U.S.A. label as a selling point with varying degrees of success. American companies have largely focused their manufacturing operations in poorer nations, largely China, where labor is cheaper and labor and environmental laws are comparatively insignificant. Many Americans view this trend with disdain for a variety of reasons. Some worry that their nation has lost both industrial capacity and essential manufacturing jobs, some may be concerned with the exploitation of non-American workers in sweatshops, while others believe that this has drastically decreased the general availability of high quality products. Therefore, a product bearing a Made in the U.S.A. label can appeal to an American who seeks high quality products produced domestically under American labor and environmental laws.
The situation for US manufacturers who export, particularly high-tech manufacturers, is a bit more complex. Some countries, such as Japan, require country-of-origin statements when goods are imported, but US companies are prohibited from making an unqualified "Made in USA" claim unless "all or substantially all" of their product is of US origin. High tech manufacturers often cannot procure all of the needed components of their product from US sources; typically, a small percentage of the manufacturing cost represents components sourced from overseas, yet there is no definition of "substantially all" since the 75% guideline referred to above was withdrawn by FTC.
The FTC has a page summarizing this issue, but, as of late 2011, there appears to be no "bright line" determining what "all or substantially all" means. Examples are given on the FTC site; a barbecue grill made of components made in USA with the exception of the knobs may be called "Made in USA" while a garden tool with an imported motor may not.
Goods produced in American Samoa (a United States territory) are entitled to attach a "Made in USA" label, as this is an insular area of the United States. This area has until recently had few of the labor and safety protections afforded United States workers, and there have been a number of cases of sweatshop operators exploiting labor forces imported from south and east Asia. The Northern Mariana Islands is another U.S. possession in the Pacific that was exempted from U.S. wage and labor laws until recently,[when?] where the use of the "Made in USA" label was likewise controversial. The label is controversial also since all U.S. insular areas, except Puerto Rico, operate under a customs territory separate from the U.S., making their products technically imports when sold in the United States proper.
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