Monday, July 16, 2007
UPDATE 10/03/11: Here is an interesting article by Paul Krugman of the New York Times on the trade situation with China: Holding China to Account
Dirk Lammers, an Associate Press writer, beat me to it. In his excellent article about the abundance of "Made in China" items, he covered exactly what I hoped to write about: Can we avoid products made in China?
With all the recent news about recalls and the dangerous products and ingredients from China, I thought how can we avoid Chinese products? How difficult would it be?
I did my own experiment a few days ago. I went into the local dollar store, the ultimate challenge for avoiding Chinese products. Just as I suspected most of the items were made in China. Kitchen accessories, coffee mugs, toys, etc all from China. I spotted some NH postcards, thinking there could be no way these were made in China, and they weren't: they were made in Italy. A few products did say made in USA, but they were rare. Imagine the effect it would have on Wal-mart and the dollar stores if we banned imports from China.
China is already in an uproar over our ban of seafood. And the Philippines not only want to ban products from China, but are encouraging consumers to buy local products.
One good point made my Mr. Lammers is that even though an item or food product is made in the USA, the parts or ingredients could be made in China. What is even more frustrating is that the labels never tell. Having companies completely provide details of all their ingredient/part origins would be time consuming and confusing to the consumer. And who is to say that companies don't often switch where they get, say sugar, one month to buy it at a better price from another country the next month?
What about cars? Car companies often buy parts from other countries. [I went to the Chevrolet website and emailed them asking if all parts and the cars themselves are made in the USA. I will keep you posted.] So you could be proudly driving your USA, car, assembled in the USA, but the gas pump in it could be made in China.
It seems like we have little problems with our imports from other countries. Perhaps we should give incentives to companies who use all materials and get all products from the USA rather than ban China imports. Maybe a formal impact study could be done to see how it would effect our economy if we banned products from China.
Boycotts are difficult. I am currently boycotting Amazon.com because they sell materials that promote and advocate the brutal, cruel "sports" of dogfighting and cockfighting. I did a lot of shopping there. I just don't know if I could successfully boycott products from China, at least the ones that are labeled. I'd rather see China improve the quality and safety of their products. And our FDA needs to have a better checking system to prevent these items from even reaching our shelves.
So next time you go shopping, check the labels. You'd be amazed at how few Made in USA items exist.
UPDATE: Sorry, folks: an ad for importing products from China was appearing above my post. I removed it. Thanks for the heads up from jolovessnow. And yes, I do know who you are, and where you live! :-)
Posted by Ruthiness at 2:21 PM