BRINGING JOBS BACK TO THE U.S.A., I QUESTION.
There has been a great deal of talk by politicians for the past five years about bringing jobs back to the U.S.A. However, as we have seen that has not happened and there is a reason why. What is taking place in the outdoor industry may very well be happening in other industries as well. It all has to do with the amount of money large corporations donate to the senators and/or representatives in their district or state.
Columbia Sportswear and Nike both having their corporate headquarters in Portland, Oregon want and I quote their “representative Earl Blumenauer and senator Ron Wyden push tariff change to aid Columbia Sportswear and Nike”. That is the headline in the June 4, 2011 business section of Oregon Business News. The bill is titled “The Optimal Use of Trade to Develop Outerwear and Outdoor Recreation Act”. It “would create a new classification within the U.S. schedule that would make qualifying imports duty free”. I’ll address why later.
A spokesman for the Outdoor Industry Association; Alex Boian the association’s director of trade policy states “These garments have never been made in the United States” and “The capability to make these garments in commercially viable volumes (in the U.S.) does not exist”. Having read the statement I called Alex and in the conversation I asked where he got his information and he never did answer the question. He, in my opinion, is a politician. I offered to him some facts as to the history of the garments he is referring too, and to the fact that they were made in the U.S. before they were ever made in China. What are these garments he thinks have never been made in the U.S. anyway? They are garments made as follows; fabric that is either water resistant or visibly coated or both, has critically sealed seams, insulation for cold weather, zipped pockets, hook and loop, or other type of closure. Elastic, draw-cord, or other means of tightening around the waist or leg hems, including hidden leg sleeves with a means of tightening at the ankle for trousers and tightening around the waist or bottom hem for jackets. They describe several other points which would be redundant to write.
The statement by Alex Boian that garments made with these materials or in this manner have never been made in the U.S. is simply a stupid remark. When he tells such stories to politicians he is blatantly lying to them. The politicians don’t know that so they believe it since it is in the best interest of those who support them. He further states that we do not have the capacity to produce the quantities needed to satisfy the market place is also a stupid remark. We have factories that have been supplying our military for years with quantities that are significantly greater than these companies require. It should also be noted that the quality of construction that we provide in the U.S. is significantly better than what is shipped into the U.S. from China.
The problem these companies and many more face such as The North Face or Marmot, etc. is the simple fact that wages in China are escalating. That means the cost of the raw materials are higher, then we have the transportation of material to cutting and sewing factory; higher, and finally the cost of manufacture is higher. Aren’t these Chinese people entitled to better wages just like we are? Now we put the finished product in a container and then on a ship which means the cost of transport to the U.S. is higher. And finally there is a 17 percent tariff added to each garment. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that the same garment could be made in the U.S. for the same new cost. But these companies want the tariff done away with. That way they would keep the garments at the same price as it had been. This is why they want the tariff removed.
The very bottom line is that these companies will do whatever they can to keep manufacturing of the products they sell made some place other than the U.S.A. If people in the U.S.A. chose not to buy products made in China then and only then would the Nike’s and Columbia’s of our world start to look into manufacturing in the U.S.A.