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Welcome to Made in the USA Foundation

The Made in the USA Foundation is dedicated to promoting products manufactured in the USA, as well as products assembled in the USA. We strive to create a community of USA success stories. Our online platform serves as a tool for shoppers, and as a resource for manufacturers. The Foundation also pursues litigation and legislative activity to strengthen and uphold labeling laws and standards. We hope to encourage American values around the world, raising the bar concerning minimum wages, environmental standards, labor rights, and human rights, including eliminating child labor. Most importantly, we work to create good-paying jobs in the USA and a sustainable, environmentally sound, and healthy economy.

Our mailing address is 11693 San Vicente Blvd. Suite 311, Los Angeles, California 90049.

Our telephone number is (310) MADE-USA.

Email:  Chairman@MadeUSAFdn.org.

Made in the USA Reports August 2017

Unintended Consequences of Trade with China

By Joel D. Joseph, Chairman, Made in the USA Foundation

What happens to the hundreds of billions of dollars that we send to China for consumer products, furniture, apparel, shoes and other stuff? Those billions of dollars are coming back to haunt our housing markets making it more and more difficult for middle income buyers to buy homes in California, Texas, Seattle, New York and other locations.

Foreign buyers purchased on $153 billion worth of U.S. residential properties for the 12 months ended in March, 2017. That is a massive 49 percent jump from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors. Foreign purchases of U.S. residential real estate surged to the highest level ever in terms of number of homes sold and dollar volume.

Most economists (not me and a few other progressive economists) have contended that American consumers should enjoy cheap Chinese furniture, rugs, electronics and clothing even if it is illegally dumped in the U.S.  They argue that we are getting a bargain.  But the side effects, the unintended consequences of this practice, is undermining home ownership in America.  We will have all this cheap Chinese stuff and have no home to put it in.

 

Florida, Texas, California and New York drew the most international buyers. Foreign sales accounted for 10 percent of all existing home sales by dollar volume. In total, foreign buyers purchased 284,455 homes, up 32 percent from the previous year. Half of all foreign sales were in just three states: Florida, California and Texas.

 

Exacerbating Income Inequality

 

Middle class home ownership has been the backbone of the American economy and the American dream for generations. The massive influx of foreign dollars is threatening our way of life. Home ownership is down significantly for the first time in American history. In some communities, home ownership has dipped below 50%.

 

Only 48.3 percent of households in Los Angeles and Orange counties lived in a home they own in the second quarter of 2017, the second lowest homeownership rate in the nation. U.S. Census Bureau data released recently shows Fresno, California at 44.5 percent, having the lowest ownership among the 75 largest metropolitan areas. The New York metro area was third at 49.8 percent.

 

Housing analyst Logan Mohtashami isn’t surprised by low local ownership. He estimates that 82 percent of the working-class people in Southern California can’t afford to buy a home in their own ZIP code.

 

California’s statewide ownership fell to 53.8 percent rate, down from 55.1 percent at the start of 2017. It was fourth-worst in the second quarter behind Washington, D.C. (39.2 percent); New York (50.7 percent); and Hawaii (53.7 percent).

 

Jim Conlan, a real estate broker with Century 21 North Homes Realty in Seattle, says the real catalyst for the dramatic upswing can be found in China. “To be honest, Chinese buyers have been flooding this market the past few years,” says Conlan, who has been selling homes in Seattle for more than 30 years. “Some of them buy homes sight unseen, while others travel here for a kind of real estate tourism and buy real estate after only one viewing.”

 

For the fourth year in a row, buyers from China ranked first among foreign nationals purchasing property in the United States, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). U.S. home sales to Chinese nationals totaled $27.3 billion — exceeding the total dollar sales figure of the next four countries in the rankings combined. According to Robert Gombos, owner of the well-respected Jasmine Directory, a human-edited catalogue that lists businesses topically and regionally, Chinese real estate related businesses in the U.S. and Britain grew by 37.4 percent since 2013. (www.jasminedirectory.com).

 

Chinese investment in U.S. real estate could hit $50 billion by 2025, according to a report by the Rosen Consulting Group and the Asia Society. In San Francisco Bay-area locations, home prices have risen by double digits in the past three years, while the number of buyers from China has nearly doubled since 2012, says Penelope Huang, a broker with Re/Max Distinctive Properties. The increased demand is making the area one of the toughest for younger buyers, she says. “Listings are snapped up in a week or sometimes less in this market,” she says. “That kind of pace of sales directly affects first-time buyers.”

 

In New York City, Chinese investors are increasingly gobbling up property. In middle-class areas of Brooklyn and Queens, the number of Chinese buyers has nearly doubled since 2012, estimates Jennifer Hsu, a broker with Halstead Property in Queens. “They’re now competing with buyers at the middle of this market,” she says, “and that added competition is making life tougher for people looking to buy their first home.”

 

The average home price for Chinese buyers in 2015 was $831,800, compared with $499,600 for all other international buyers, the study from Rosen Consulting Group shows. Mark McLaughlin, chief executive of San Francisco-based Pacific Union said that his brokerage firm spends about $400,000 annually on marketing in China, including having a Chinese-language website and advertising in Asian papers. McLaughlin estimates that buyers from China account for 15 to 20 percent of the San Francisco real estate market.

 

What Congress Can Do

While Americans can buy condominiums in China, the Chinese government owns all urban land. Condo owners in China pay a land lease to their communist landlord.

 

In order to halt the decline of American homeownership, we should ban all foreign ownership of residential property. Norway and Australia ban the foreign ownership of residential property by non-residents.

 

Zoe Williams, a well-known columnist for the Guardian, proposed that Britain ban the ownership of residential property by non-resident foreigners. The Guardian is one of the few national British newspapers.

 

The United States should at least ban the ownership of residential properties by foreign non-residents. I would take it one step further and ban the ownership of residential property by all non-Americans, resident or not.

Where’s the Beef?

by Joel D. Joseph, Chairman, Made in the USA Foundation

Congress and the President have just caved in and gutted the Country of Origin Labeling Act (COOL) removing the requirement that meat must be labeled with its source. Now meat from China, Mexico, Argentina or any other country can be sold in American grocery stores with no country of origin labeling.

 

The dispute started about five years ago when Canada and Mexico filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization. They argued that U.S. law required their meat to be labeled “product of Mexico” or “Canada” was a barrier to free trade. Most countries of the world require similar labeling, so this complaint seemed weak. Canada argued “there is no logic to the proposition that consumers interested in origin information care less when buying ground meat, or when buying meat in restaurants, in butcher shops or in the form of processed food.” Canada’s basic argument was that the U.S. law did not apply to restaurants or for processed foods (where half of all food dollars are spent) and thus the law should be thrown out.

 

The WTO bought into Mexico and Canada’s bizarre argument and has attempted to overrule the laws of the United States. Congress gave in because it feared Canadian and Mexican retaliation. The U.S. is the strongest nation on earth in terms of economic and military strength, yet our legislators flinch at the very slightest hint of a trade war. The United States should not allow its consumer protection laws to be overturned by foreign nations or by the World Trade Organization. President Obama said recently, “critics warn that parts of this deal (Trans Pacific Partnership) would undermine American regulation — food safety, worker safety, even financial regulations.  They’re making this stuff up.  This is just not true.  No trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws.”  Sadly, President Obama just signed the budget deal that included the WTO’s forced change of our laws.

 

The WTO is Illegitimate

The World Trade Organization sounds like a legitimate international organization, but it is not. The WTO does not have a permanent judiciary; it selects “judges” who are practicing attorneys to hear disputes. In the Country of Origin Labeling Act case, the WTO selected Ricardo Ramírez-Hernández as the appellate panel chairman.      A Mexican national, Ramírez-Hernández is a lawyer who has represented Mexico in trade matters. He has an obvious conflict of interest since Mexico was a party to this case and he should have been disqualified as an appellate jurist. In U.S. courts, Ramírez-Hernández would never have been allowed to participate as a judge.

The WTO has a history of ruling against the United States. Another American consumer law that ran afoul of the WTO was the Dolphin Safe Tuna Act. This law was passed to allow tuna fisherman to use a “Dolphin-Safe” label on its cans of tuna fish so that consumers could, if they so desired, purchase tuna fished in a more humane manner.

Nothing in the law was designed to harm fisherman from other countries. This labeling by fisherman was voluntary, but those using the Dolphin-Safe label had to meet strict standards.

 

The third U.S. law, Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, to be rejected by the WTO was a law outlawing flavored cigarettes. The purpose of this law was to prevent children from getting hooked on cinnamon, bubblegum or lemon flavored cigarettes. Indonesia challenged this law because the law prevented clove cigarettes from being sold in the United States.

 

The United States has lost all three of these cases. None of these cases involved any real barriers to international trade. The common thread was that these U.S. consumer protection laws had extremely minor impact on foreign nations. It is apparent that the WTO “judges” from less democratic nations do not care about the protection of consumers, children or dolphins.

 

COOLER

 

My response to the WTO and to Congress’s cave-in is to amend COOL to include restaurants and processed foods. This totally undercuts Canada and Mexico’s argument that since COOL applied only to half of our food supply, it cannot withstand scrutiny.

 

For example, if a consumer were to order shrimp at a Red Lobster restaurant, the patron would know if it comes from Thailand (or some other Asian-Pacific nations), where recent reports have shown that these crustaceans harvested from those countries may be contaminated. I call my proposal COOLER: Country of Origin Labeling Expansion and Reform Act. The recent action by Congress will now allow ground beef not to be labeled even though the WTO decision did not apply to ground beef. The international beef lobbyists obviously got their hands on the legislation just before Congress put it into the recent budget act to keep the government funded in 2016.

 

COOLER would apply the Country of Origin Labeling Act to all restaurants. Hamburgers being served at McDonalds and other restaurants would have to be labeled on their menu and menu boards as to their country of origin. Currently, some high-end seafood restaurants such as McCormick & Schmick already list the country of origin information on their menus. COOLER would also fill in the gaps left in the original COOL legislation to cover cooked and processed meats, turkey and duck as well as all imported nuts.

 

More than ninety percent of American consumers want to know the country of origin of the food that they purchase and ingest. COOLER will give consumers and restaurant patrons the knowledge and ability to avoid consuming foods from countries that they don’t trust with food safety.

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August 30th, 2016
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Made in the USA Reports August 2016