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Trump pushes ‘Make in America’, critics say his businesses sell foreign products

US President Donald Trump is facing criticism from opponents because his family businesses outsource product manufacturing to nations such as Bangladesh, China, India and Mexico.

world Updated: Jul 19, 2017 09:10 IST
President Donald Trump tries on a Stetson hat during a
President Donald Trump tries on a Stetson hat during a "Made in America" product showcase featuring items created in each of the 50 US states on July 17, 2017 at the White House in Washington. (A)

US President Donald Trump has pushed for “Made in America” products to fight “unfair” and “stupid” trade practices amid criticism that his family business outsources product manufacturing to countries such as India, China and Bangladesh.

Surrounded by Gibson guitars, Stetson cowboy hats and other “Made in America” products, Trump promised to “stand up” for American companies and their employees, warning that the US would take retaliatory action against other countries’ “unfair trade practices”.

“We have countries that charge us 100% tax on a product. And when that product is sold by them to us, we brilliantly charge them nothing,” Trump said, with a tinge of sarcasm.

“People say, ‘Oh that’s free trade.’ No, that’s stupid trade. That’s really stupid trade. It’s incredible,” he was quoted as saying by CNN.

Noting that he was elected on promises of reigniting American manufacturing, Trump touted his administration’s efforts to bolster US manufacturing and strip away burdensome government regulations and promised he would do more to level the playing field for US companies.

But Trump offered up no new policy or specific action that would advance those goals, signing only a symbolic “Made in America” proclamation and promising still-unrevealed policies that will make US manufacturers “so happy”.

“Over the next short period of time you’re going to see things announced that you won’t even believe for our country and for selling product in our country and making product in our country and things that are great for American jobs,” he said.

The day provided an opportunity for Trump to turn the page away from Russia-related controversies swirling around his administration and instead provide images of him marvelling at a host of products made in all 50 US states.

“My administration is removing the burdens and regulations on your companies so that you can compete, thrive and grow,” he said.

“For decades, Washington has allowed other nations to wipe out millions of American jobs through unfair trade practices,” he said.

This exodus of American jobs was marked by a period of sluggish growth, falling incomes, surging welfare and shrinking participation in the workforce, he said as he called for free and fair trade with other countries.

“We must fight the unfair trade practices that have gutted our industry, and that includes cracking down on the predatory online sales of foreign goods, which is absolutely killing our shoppers and our shopping centers,” he said.

“Since the beginning of the year, we have already created over 50,000 brand-new manufacturing jobs, and we’re just getting started. We will lift our citizens from welfare to work. We will turn boarded-up communities into new outposts of American commerce. And we will once again rediscover our heritage as a manufacturing nation,” he added.

The US used to be a manufacturing nation. Not so much anymore, he said.

“Restoring American manufacturing will not only restore our wealth, it will restore our pride and pride in ourselves. It will revitalise our independence, and it will rebuild the bonds of kinship between our communities and our citizens, which has been lagging,” Trump said.

However, his push for Made in America received some criticism from political opponents, who alleged that his family businesses are still selling products made overseas, including from India, China and Bangladesh.

“Where are the shirts made? Bangladesh. Where are the ties made? China,” tweeted Matthew Wagner, the communication director of Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.

“Trump organisation continues to outsource much of its product manufacturing to Bangladesh, China & Mexico,” tweeted congressman Dan Kildee.

“Trump’s DC hotel sells clothes made in China, Vietnam, Peru, Bangladesh and Pakistan during Made in America,” said another tweet.

In July, the Washington Post traced Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump’s products to Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

The issue also came up during the daily White House news conference.

“After all, he has shirts made in China and Bangladesh and India. Other products made - like Trump vodka made in the Netherlands,” said a reporter.

“I actually look at it in a very different way, which is the president has been a very successful businessman on a number of fronts and a number of areas and industries, and to understand first-hand what the tax burden and what the regulatory burden do to a business that wants to grow or expand here or hire here,” White House spokesperson Sean Spicer replied.