Patricia Smith: Lead by example
President Trump recently tweeted, “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.”
Trump’s demand came under sharp and immediate criticism from the U.S. business community, which warned that halting sales with such a large trading partner would hurt American companies and the broader economy.
At any rate, Jimmy Kimmel revealed that Trump’s rhetoric is a case of “do as I say, not as I do” when he went on a shopping spree on Trump Internationals’s online store in March 2018. He discovered that Trump family practices are not consistent with his China policy.
Of the 268 products listed on Trump’s online store, only 41 are made in America. His own products, according to a Washington Post investigation, are made in 12 foreign countries: China, Mexico, India, Turkey, Slovenia, Honduras, Germany, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Vietnam, and South Korea.
Even the materials used to manufacture Trump’s signature baseball caps boasting “Make America Great Again” are imported — only the stitching is done in the USA.
Many of the amenities at Trump’s hotels — including shampoo, body wash, moisturizers, shower caps, laundry bags, bath towels and pet items were manufactured in China. Noting that President Trump wanted to focus on American-made products, Kimmel checked out the labels on Trump-branded items such as a golf hat, a coffee mug, a baby bib, and more. All the items originated in China, Thailand, or Peru, except two items that had no country of origin markings at all.
As a concerned citizen, Kimmel looked up “Requirements for country of origin marking on goods imported to the U.S.” He discovered that the potential violations could cost as much as $500,000 each.
After Nabisco sent 600 jobs to Mexico, Trump vowed to never eat Oreos again. If customers took the same stance against his products as he did against Nabisco, Trump International would fold.
This duplicity doesn’t stop with The Donald. Online records from China’s trademark office indicate that Ivanka Trump’s company applied for 17 trademarks on March 28, 2017, the day before she took on a formal role at the White House. Those records showed at least 25 Ivanka Trump trademarks pending review, 36 active marks and eight with provisional approval.
“Trump may be frustrated with China, but the answer isn’t for U.S. companies to ignore a market with 1.4 billion consumers,” said Myron Brilliant, executive vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Besides, the White House does not have the authority to force companies to stop manufacturing their products in China.”
Trump has acknowledged that many of his goods are imported, but has not made any efforts to change his business practices to line up with his “buy American, hire American” rhetoric. If Trump wants to set an example for American businesses, he should start by bringing all of his products home to the U.S.
Patricia Smith lives in Nevada City.
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