US Manufacturers Encourage FTC to Enforce ‘Made in America’ Specifications

U.S. manufacturers are calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce specifications regarding the use of “Made in America” product labels. From kids’ toys and mattresses to clothes, sports equipment and power tools, countless products tout the “Made in America” — or “Made in the USA” — label. Upon seeing this label, most consumers assume that the respective product was manufactured in the United States. Unfortunately, though, some manufacturers are deceptively labeling their products as “Made in America” when they were actually produced overseas and imported into the United States.

To combat this problem, the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) is encouraging the FTC to crack down on manufacturers that deceptively label their products as “Made in America.” Currently, the FTC only penalizes manufacturers for falsely labeling their products as “Made in America” after two violations. The first violation is essentially a warning. Assuming the manufacturer complies and stops labeling its overseas-manufactured products as “Made in America,” it won’t face fines or other penalties. That’s something the AAM wants to change, however.

Recently, the AAM requested that the FTC enforce the “Made in America” labeling specification on the first violation. If the FTC obliges, it would require manufacturers to be more cautious with their product labels. Even on the first violation, a manufacturer could face fines or other penalties for falsely labeling a product as “Made in America” if it was actually manufactured elsewhere.

The FTC says that it receives hundreds of complaints about false “Made in America” product labels each year. “We get hundreds of these, hundreds of complaints a year, that people are improperly using the Made in the USA label. We are committed to investigating those, and usually a lot of times what happens is the firm, the company doesn’t even realize that it’s a violation. So we explain to them it’s a violation and they stop it,” said the FTC when speaking in front of the Senate Subcommittee.

According to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the FTC has issued more than 130 warnings to manufacturers for false “Made in America” labeling since 2010. Surprisingly, though, only a single company has been forced to pay restitution for improper labeling practices: Stanley Works. In 2006, Stanley Works was fined $205,000 for a second violation involving false “Made in America” labeling.

Statistics show that 80% of U.S. consumers prefer to purchase products that were made in the United States as opposed to those made overseas. The problem is that not all products featuring the “Made in America” label are actually produced here in the United States. This may soon change, however, as the AAM is pushing the FTC to take action on the first violation.

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