Friday, July 13, 2012

I am Not Ashamed About the U.S. Olympic Team

Peter Quinter, Esq.
Perhaps you have already heard or seen the comments by political pundits and other commentators regarding the controversy about members of the U.S. Olympic Team wearing clothing that has "Made in China" labels. I want you to know that as a customs and international trade attorney, as someone who believes in free and fair trade, and as someone who has been to China several times, I have no problem with our Olympic athletes wearing clothes that were made in China...or Guatemala, or Brazil, or Indonesia, or Italy.  Sure, it would be nice to think that Ralph Lauren, the brand that provided the clothing to the Olympic athletes, should have obtained the clothing from a manufacturer in the United States.  Guess what, chances are, the fabric for those clothes, or the buttons, or the thread, would have come, in part, from China anyway.

Now, this may be very controversial, and many of you reading this may disagree with me. Ok, let's discuss this a little bit, but first, get naked. Yes, take your clothes off, or at least for the first time look at the labels of what you are buying and wearing.  I mean, look at the labels on the clothes, shoes, hangbags, wallets, etc. that you have with you right now. Surprise, chances are they do not display "Made in the USA" but were made outside the United States.  By the way, the TV or computer you are reading this on right now... yup again, probably Made in China or at least some components made in China.

Every customs lawyer knows that all merchandise entering the United States must prominently display, in English, the country of origin of the merchandise. See 19 U.S.C section 1304 and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection regulations at 19 CFR Part 134.  I am in the business of identifying where things are made and how they should be labeled when entering the United States.  In customs lingo, we use the term "marked".

So, if you are absolutely horrified that our U.S. Olympic athletes are wearing something Made in China, before making any criticism, please take a hard look at yourself first. 'People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones' is an old saying, and is still true.

Please provide your comments or questions below.

Peter Quinter, Shareholder
Customs and International Trade Law Group
GrayRobinson, P.A.
(954) 270-1864

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