The Tribune Review newspaper published an article on its front page Saturday August 25, 2007 entitled “US Flag? Made in China.” As a supplier of flags to Wal-Mart, I would like to comment on your article.
1) Wal-Mart makes a diligent effort to ensure that all the US Flags it sells are manufactured in the US. Therefore, I suspect your headline is incorrect. The item in question is a low cost flag kit that has a US made flag and a few imported parts for the pole. Wal-Mart also sells a range of other high quality flag products all made in the US by Annin, the largest flag company in the world. I am sure Wal-Mart could make more money and sell more flags at lower prices if they sold imported US flags. I am also sure that their PR department would have told you this, if you had given them a decent chance to respond.
2) It is easy to bash the Chinese for making these recalled products, but I think the press needs to look in more detail at what is going on. In many cases, the issue is bad design, which is the responsibility of the US Company designing and selling the products, and not the factory on China.
3) Although a high percentage of the American flags we sell are US made, some are made in China. We are proud to be able to offer a choice, so that patriotic Americans on a tight budget can still buy and fly quality flags. Typical customers who buy these products include veterans, current members of the armed forces, retired Americans living on social security & schools often in poorer areas. Who are we to force these people to pay more money for products that they can barely afford?
4) Several states have recently passed laws requiring that all US flags sold in that state be made in the US, which is contrary to international trade laws and sends a bad signal to other countries. The US is a major producer and exporter of flags of other countries, including the flag of China. US based flag companies including Valley Forge, Annin and Eder and others produce thousands of flags of other countries in several different sizes. Why is it OK for the US to make flags for every other country in the world, but not to allow other countries to make our flag? These other countries are not complaining that we are making their flags, although in some cases there are government permits required to make their flags, which we are ignoring. If we were to require that all flags are made in the countries they represent, companies like us will have to source our international flags from 200 different suppliers overseas!