Americans overwhelmingly want to know where the products they buy are made—including ones bought online. Thankfully, Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee took an important step this month towards making that a reality by passing Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s, D-Wis., COOL Online Act. This commonsense, bipartisan bill would mandate prominent country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for any product sold on the Internet.
Unfortunately, Amazon and other large online retailers are now lobbying to prevent this bill from ever becoming law.
Amazon has faced plenty of backlash lately over unethical workplace conditions and from lawmakers like Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. In the face of public scrutiny—and a potential unionization vote—the e-commerce giant even chose to pick Twitter fights with Senators Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
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Now, Amazon is attempting to further undermine American workers and millions of American consumers who prefer to buy American-made products.
After the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans made clear that they are no longer interested in buying products made in China. And nearly 80% of U.S. consumers are willing to pay more for products from companies that move supply chains out of China.
Americans are right to be concerned about where their products are made. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) maintains a running list of thousands of defective and unsafe Chinese products that keep entering the U.S. market . Just last month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said that foreign manufacturers continue to exploit the rapid growth of e-commerce to not only sell legitimate goods, but also counterfeit products.
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Unsafe imports from China—including everything from tainted pet food to toxic toys—enter our country and markets each and every day thanks to companies like Amazon. Last year, CBP seized more than 26,500 shipments containing counterfeit goods, with China accounting for 92% of the estimated value of those seizures.
Lawmakers are right to support policies that give consumers the information they need to make safer and better choices. Unfortunately, an import lobby led by companies like Amazon is standing in the way of Americans finally having access to clearly labeled information on where e-commerce products are made.
Why would Amazon oppose efforts to stamp a clear "Made in China" or "Made in USA" label on its product listings?
The answer is simple: money.
Amazon continues to rake in record profits by selling a multitude of cheap goods from Chinese factories. It’s estimated that as much as 75% of all new goods sold on Amazon come from China. And thanks to changes in U.S. Customs policy, any Chinese good priced as high as $799 on their website can enter the U.S. duty-free.
The bottom line is that China provides a massive source of annual profit for large retailers who care more about importing cheaply made goods than quality ones made in America. And even though Chinese manufacturers continue to crank out a steady stream of shoddy products, Amazon has shown no interest in redirecting its sales toward better alternatives made in the U.S.
Retail giants have been fighting country-of-origin labeling efforts for years as part of a shameful, self-serving agenda. Thankfully, Congress and the American people are now clear eyed about what’s really going on.
The Senate should ignore the lobbying efforts from multinational corporations like Amazon who grovel to the Chinese Communist Party and put profits above America. Instead, they should stand with American consumers and workers by passing Senator Baldwin’s bill into law.
Michael Stumo is CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America. Follow him at @michael_stumo.