Why do products indicate where they were made?

I was wondering about those tags on clothes or products that say “Made in China” (or somewhere else). Why are they needed? Is it a requirement? When does it matter where they were made - is it for customs? Why wouldn’t a shipping container labeled “Contents Made in China” be sufficient for customs? Or is it for consumers? (If so, how thoughtful, I didn’t know anyone cared.)

For that matter, how do we know those tags are telling the truth?

This originates in the 19th century. The UK was trying to protect domestic manufacturers from foreign competition, the assumption being that patriotic Britons would by domestic wares rather than those made by Johnny Foreigner.

Ironically, I have read that especially “Made in Germany” was perceived as indicating high quality, at least before WWI, so that one backfired.

Googling seems to indicate that the marking was instituted by the Merchandise Marks Act 1887.

Fair Packaging and Labeling Act
Every country has it’s own regulations and this one is for the USA.

I quote only the part requiring the location of manufacture. Go to the following page to read the entire regulation.


There are also regulations for meat and produce. These regulations are fairly new. COOL or Country of Origin Labeling.



Tier 3 Auto

We stamp made in Canada , our factory and a date code and product code on everything we make. Should one of our customers encounter a problem that facilitates a recall or any investigation, the product history can be traced all the way back to the stamping, or even further to the steel mill that supplied the steel.


And an importer can get a big fat fine if merchandise is not labled correctly per Customs regs. Textiles have the most strict labeling regs, the regs are administered by the FTC and enforced by Customs. On textile products, the minium amount of info (IIRC) is fiber content, country of origin, and care instructions.

There are execptions to labeling requirement, such as things too small (eg pins and needles) to be marked on the item–these can be marked on the outermost consumer packaging–and components that will be integrated into something else and are not meant for the retail market.