Editor’s Note: Reshore. Live Better?

By now, you’re probably aware of Walmart’s 10-year, $250 billion pledge to source American-made goods for its U.S. stores. The retailer has publicized the job-igniting effort with TV ads celebrating U.S. manufacturing and the middle class. Voiceovers by all-American pitchman Mike Rowe serenaded reshoring supporters’ ears.

Let’s forget for a second that Walmart was one of the biggest offshorers for years, moving manufacturing and jobs out of American hands. And never mind that one ad misguidedly uses a Canadian band’s song about the plight of “the working man.” Behind the patriotism and slick production values drafted by its PR machine, Walmart wants suppliers to reshore because it makes business sense — just as it made free-market sense to go overseas before — now that labor costs in China have risen and sophisticated total cost of ownership modeling tools prove it does.

Walmart or any business does not exist to employ people, but it’s hard to root against a move that results in American jobs. There is, however, a sense of irony with bringing back the production of footwear, sporting goods, and housewares as China’s economy matures and it closes the gap with the West in making high-tech and advanced products.
William Ng, Editor-in-Chief, wng@thomasnet.com.


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  • Bruce Rubin
    March 12, 2014

    Concerning WalMart and wanting to buy “Made in USA” products, I wonder if the same criteria that existed 20 plus years ago when they had the same initiative. The criteria back then was simple: if it cost “no more” we would be happy to buy the USA-made product. If companies can bring back production to the US, it would be great for GDP but probably will not add jobs equal with the dollars, since labor costs are still wide apart.
    What you said about the types of products we want to make is the same transition Taiwan made twenty-plus years ago.
    Enjoyed the piece.

  • John Rodden
    March 12, 2014

    We in the manufacturing and packaging area have been hurt extremely hard with the cost of manufacturing and assembly in China but we have and even bigger issue with a country we border with.

    Mexico has picked up a lot of that slack form China and they don’t seem to be slowing down.

    We have seen business that we have had for 25 years go across the border because of pennies.

    I don’t know if we have to wait until these countries economies rise to ours or until ours drops to theirs!

    Until then we will continue to work hard and produce packaging that people know was Made in the U.S.A. It isn’t hard to tell the difference.

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