Made in China

When asking around, everyone or at least the majority of people would say that everything is made in China. That is what it seems like. It seems to be the consensus of local Dundee shoppers. Being American, every time I look at a product to see where it was made, I would normally see China. This may not actually be the case though. San Francisco Federal Reserve economists recently pointed out that goods labeled “Made in China” make up only 2.7 percent of U.S. consumption. It seems to be that even though China manufactures a small percentage of goods, those goods are the most popular and purchased items. Manufacturing in other countries is not dead. It is struggling and merely a shadow of itself. Another look at the US shows, one-fifth of all furniture bought by Americans last year was made in China, compared with 60% made in the U.S. In fact, some 35% of the clothing and shoes bought in the US were made in China, which is actually a greater share than the 25% of these items made in America. Similar numbers can be seen in the UK.

Further delving into the attitudes of shoppers, I came across many opinions on seeing “Made in China.” That label associated the product with being “crap” or potentially dangerous. Some people have now just refused to buy anything that has been assembled or made in China. Western suppliers of goods know that. They seem to try and hide the country of origin on the packaging unless they’re legally obliged to announce it. Researching this a bit more on the Internet, I came across how more companies are now using the phrase “Made in the PRC,” standing for People’s Republic of China, in an attempt to try and hide the fact that it was made in China. Shoppers do not usually know about the PRC and will buy these Chinese goods thinking they are not actually manufactured in China. Why would companies want to hide the fact a product was made in China or why would someone refuse to buy Chinese-made goods? “Made in China” has been now associated with disproportionate profit versus cost to consumer, underpaid and dangerous work conditions, disregard to intellectual rights, and poor quality. There have been a numerous amount of recalls on products from China and it has only furthered to solidify the association of bad quality goods with China. Consumers do receive good quality value from Chinese-made appliances for the most part. Home appliances are a popular good that consumers buy that is manufactured in China and they are of good to decent quality. It is when it comes to food products and ingredients, that there is a safety issue on top of the quality issue. Recalls on food and pet food have caused a stir that leads to the consumer’s doubt of China.

When your coffee machine stops working, it can easily be returned or replaced but when and if the food is unsafe, it is entirely a different matter. China is home to 22% of the world’s population but has only 7% of its total arable land. China’s agricultural policies and their economic impact are of interest to the rest of the world as the country is more integrated into the world market. There has been some progress in bridging the UK and China. The China-UK Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Network (SAIN) has been established to provide a good foundation for the development and execution of China-UK collaboration on environmentally sustainable agriculture. It will support the aims of the existing China-UK Sustainable Development Dialogue (SDD) and provide a flexible and largely self-sustaining platform for long-term China-UK collaboration. In the long run, consumers would hopefully have more trust in buying Chinese manufactured products and produce.

If we turn to take a look at China, China has made a fortune producing cheap products that sell for low prices around the world. Yet many of the high-end goods manufactured in China, like iPods and designer handbags, actually cost more in China than they do in other countries, especially in the United States. Products like this cost more in China because of the country’s high transportation fees and local government corruption. “Last year, a trucker in East China’s Henan Province was caught using fake military license plates to avoid paying tolls along a 110-mile stretch of road. It’s easy to see why: Tolls and fees for a single trip are $230.” If these truckers were to actually pay all of the tolls and fees legally, it would be entirely impossible for them to make any kind of profit. Also, taxes play a major part in China’s goods. High-end goods cost more here because China taxes them so much. But in the world market, wealthy Chinese are willing to pay extra in their country for authentic products they can show off.

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