Made in USA – American firms are coming back home
More and more American firms are coming back home from China or not going there in the first place. US companies started leaving the United States way back in the 1970s, when firms started going to Japan. In the 80s the trend turned towards South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan and today many American firms can be sighted in China and Vietnam.
However, many of them are starting to move their production back home. There are many reasons for this change. First, labor costs in China and other Asian countries are increasing. In addition, US companies abroad are facing time problems, as it takes overseas factories much longer to produce and ship products back home. In the US, customers want products immediately, not within a few weeks.
After a clothes factory recently collapsed in Bangladesh Americans are questioning whether it is good to buy products that are produced in an unsafe working environment. While European firms like H&M have established safety guidelines for their factories abroad, there are no such standards for US firms.
There are other factors that make producing in America more attractive. Businesses have more and more access to cheap shale oil and gas, thus reducing energy costs. In addition, American workers are willing to work for less money. A deal with trade unions has made the working environment better for new businesses.
Some firms have taken on innovative ideas. They collect money from people who are interested in buying American goods in order to keep firms in the country.
Large corporations are also rethinking foreign investment. Apple Computers, which has invested heavily in Communist China, has now decided to manufacture some Mac computers at home. General Electric is also coming back from China and opening up new factories. Wal-Mart is planning to buy 50 billion dollars of US-made goods for their stores. However, consumers and firms are having trouble defining what Made in USA really is. What percentage of an item must be manufactured at home in order to apply for this label?
Producing in the US means more jobs in the country. In the past three years 500,000 new jobs have been created. A few hundred thousand more are expected to be added by 2015.
While not everyone can afford to buy more expensive American-produced goods the attitude is changing. More and more American companies are investing in new technology that gives them an advantage over foreign competitors. Manufacturing nowadays also requires new skills, which means Americans must be educated at a higher level.
- abroad = in another country
- access = right to use; able to get
- advantage = here: to be better than
- afford = to have the money to buy something
- apply = be right for
- attitude = feeling
- attractive = here: interesting for companies
- billion = a thousand million
- collapse = break down
- corporation = big company
- customer = person who buys something in a store
- deal = agreement
- define = describe
- educate = learn, train
- environment = atmosphere, place
- establish = work out, make, set up
- firm = company
- however = but
- immediately = at once
- in addition = also
- increase = go up
- innovative = new, original
- label = brand name
- labor = work
- manufacture = produce
- overseas = in a country in another part of the world
- percentage = part of
- reduce = lower, make smaller
- require = need; to be necessary
- rethink = think something over and decide differently
- safety guidelines = rules or instructions that tell you how something has to be set up, so that it is not dangerous to people
- shale oil = oil that is trapped in organic rock
- ship = transport
- sight = see
- skill =ability, talent
- standard = guideline
- technology = machines, computers etc..
- trade union = organization that represents the workers and fights for their rights
- unsafe = dangerous