Washington, DC. The label “made in the USA” was once a common item item in the USA, but these days it is the rarest of labels as manufacturers run outside the USA for cheap labor and fast profits.
Motorcycle and go-kart maker Monster Moto made a big bet on U.S. manufacturing by moving assembly to this Louisiana town in 2016 from China, but it will be a long ride before it can stamp its products “Made in USA.”
The loss of nearly one out four American factories in the last two decades means parts for its bike frames and engines must be purchased in China, where the manufacturing supply chain moved years ago.
This is just one example of trying to rebuild American manufacturing. US automakers and their suppliers, for example, have already invested billions in plants abroad and would face an expensive and time-consuming transition to buy thousands of American-made parts if President Trump’s proposed “border tax” on imported goods were to become law.
For now, finding US based suppliers “remains one of the top challenges across our supplier base,” said Cindi Marsiglio, Wal-Mart’s vice president for US manufacturing and sourcing. Wal-Mart partnered with several other U.S. companies in a drive to increase spending on made in America products.
American corporations see replacing lower-skilled workers on the assembly line with robots on American factory floors as the only way to produce here in a financially viable, cost-competitive way. It’s a trend that runs against the narrative candidate Donald Trump used to win the US Presidency.
Since taking office, Trump has continued promises to resurrect U.S. manufacturing’s bygone glory days and bring back millions of jobs. On March 31, Trump directed his administration to clamp down on countries that abuse trade rules in a bid to end to the “theft of American prosperity.”
Trade experts though fear that like Trump’s reversal of policy on foreign affairs, we may well see a similar reversal on trade, in which case “made in the USA” remains that most elusive of labels.