American businesses have a history of designing products in America, but then sending the designs to companies abroad, especially to third world countries, to be assembled. Why would a first world country, with the capacity for better materials and production processes, outsource the building of their products to lesser developed nations? The answer is simple: cost.
One of the most common countries for assembling American-designed products is China. In 2011, there was an article in Forbes titled “Buying from China is in Fact Buying American.” In this article, the author talks about his friend Johnny, a middle class American who owns a couple of small restaurants.
Most of the cooking utensils and furniture in Johnny’s restaurants were made in China. Like most middle-class Americans, he shopped at stores that sold primarily Chinese-made merchandise. Johnny’s reason for using these Chinese-assembled products: they were cheap and “good-enough.”
The article went on to talk about different American companies that sell products that are made in China (Apple, Dell, Gap, Hasbro, Nike, etc.) and how, according to a San Francisco Federal Reserve study, an average of 55% of the value of American imported goods from China goes to American companies and workers.
This is compared to 36% for American goods in general. Not only can companies that outsource to China sell their goods at a cheaper price, but they actually make a lot more money in the process.