Unraveling the Confusion: Buy America, Buy American, Made in USA
The following first appeared on Robinson+Cole’s Manufacturing Law Blog. It is reposted here with permission.
There is massive confusion both in the manufacturing community and the popular press. Even some of the well-respected industry publications have had a hard time getting it right.
We see and hear the terms all the time: “Buy America,” “Buy American,” “Made in the USA,” “Made in America,” “Build Back Better.”
While all of these terms have a tinge of economic nationalism, very few manufacturers can unravel not only what each of the terms means but what type of economic opportunity might exist.
This is the first in a series of posts that attempts to simplify (if possible) the various laws that exist and how they may be relevant for manufacturers.
First, let’s get the misconceptions out of the way:
- “Buy American” and “Buy America” are the same thing
- They are the same thing as “Made in America” and “Made in the USA”
- These are new laws passed by the Biden administration
- All these laws are controlled by one agency
All of these statements are wrong.
Second, a history lesson. Economic nationalism or protectionist policies have been around since the United States was founded.
Did you know that George Washington wore a brown suit to his inauguration?
Washington did not want to wear a military uniform. He also did not want to wear a civilian suit that was made anywhere but the United States.
Question: Where do you find a suit in 1789?
Answer: You ask Henry Knox, your Secretary of War, to get it for you of course.
Question: Where did Knox get the suit from?
Answer: Wait until our next blog post!
We will answer that question and also begin by explaining the differences between “Buy American” and “Buy America.”
Yes, amazingly, they are different laws.
About the author: Jeff White provides counseling and dispute resolution advice for manufacturers and distributors throughout the United States and globally. He leads Robinson+Cole’s Manufacturing Industry Team, as well as the Aerospace Supply Chain Team.
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