One of Donald Trump’s key campaign promises was to bring back Made in the U.S.A. as much as possible. To turn American trade deals he saw as upside down, back on the right side up. This message was one of Trump’s most popular throughout the campaign. It really resonated, especially in the Rust Belt, where unemployment and under-employment are rampant.
But, making good on the promise could be much tougher than making the promise. The economic realities are catching up with the rhetoric — even for President Trump. A global economy means parts may be manufactured overseas and assembled in the USA. This goes for everything from Ford and GM automobiles to the gold pens the president uses to sign laws — made in Rhode Island, but engraved in China.
And that Boeing aircraft that Trump posed proudly in front of? About one-third of it was made elsewhere. There are countless other examples. They all point directly to a reality the Trump administration would rather ignore. In the 21st Century global economy, very few products are made in the U.S. from exclusively American materials. That’s just not how it’s done anymore.
Ford is a key example. Sure the company isn’t ratcheting up as much in Mexico, but it is building more in China, especially compacts. And automobile parts for all brands are assembled all over the place. Toyota may be a Japanese make, but there are manufacturing plants in Kentucky, Texas, Indiana, Alabama, California, and Mississippi.
The common thread, when people — whether activists, politicians, or consumers — talk about changing this reality, is price.
They say, "we would pay more for American made." But how much more?
Trump believes the gap can be closed with trade tariffs and taxes, but will that bring more totally American manufacturing back? Most don’t seem to think so. But this is not a message millions of former middle-class American manufacturing workers are willing to hear.
Regardless of the basic math of the issue, one of the key factors in this whole discussion is public relations messaging. Even if more totally Made in America could happen, do consumers have enough reasons to pay more for Made in the U.S.A?
Some assume this question is so simple to answer they don’t even need to make an argument, which is a serious mistake. Americans are dedicated and patriotic, but they also enjoy their lifestyle. Would they be willing to take a big hit on their budget to buy more locally? Some, yes, but trends are not hopeful.
Consider the American trend toward big box stores. Most consumers know the big boxes are killing mom and pop stores and hurting the local economies — at least short term. But cheaper goods and convenience are too much to turn away from.
The same can be said of Amazon. Now, even the big box stores are hurting as people choose to shop more online. The verdict? Most American consumers care a lot more about cost and convenience, because of the direct and appreciable benefits to their own lives, than they do about keeping their neighbors gainfully employed. For Made in the USA to gain any appreciable traction, that will have to change.
Ronn Torossian is one of America’s foremost Public Relations executives as founder/CEO of 5WPR, a leading independent PR Agency. The firm was honored as PR Firm of the Year by The American Business Awards, and has been named to the Inc. 500 List. Torossian is author of the best-selling "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations." For more of Ronn Torossian's reports, Go Here Now.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.