The White House kicked off “Made in America Week” on Monday and it didn’t take long for the administration to come under fire for criticism that products made by President Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump’s eponymous brands are made elsewhere.
The first daughter, who serves as a White House adviser, took a formal leave of absence from the brand in January, but kept her ownership stake and moved the assets into a trust. The President transferred his business holdings into a trust run by his sons, and did not sell his stake.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that while President Donald Trump is looking to create an environment to make more products domestically through tax and regulatory reform, he conceded that “Made in America” may not be achievable for all industries.
“There are certain things we may not have the capacity to do here in terms of having a plant or a factory that can do it. The beautiful thing about a capitalistic society is if there’s enough of a demand for it, it will happen,” Spicer told reporters during a press briefing.
“But some lines, some industries, some products may not have the scalability or the demand here in this country, but like so many other things, if there’s enough of a demand then hopefully somebody builds a factory and does it,” he added.
Asked whether it is appropriate for Ivanka Trump’s brand and others like it to make products overseas, Spicer offered a defense of the companies that do so, saying “of course” there is a market in the US for goods made abroad.
“Think about all of the things that we buy every day. Of course there’s a market because we depend in this country for many goods and services, some of which are made in America some of which aren’t. Obviously we want to create an environment where more things are made here, more things are exported from here, and that’s what the president’s agenda sets out to do,” he said.
A recent Washington Post report found that Ivanka Trump’s brand of apparel and accessories are made exclusively overseas in countries such as Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Ethiopia and Bangladesh. Abigail Klem, who took over as brand president, told The Post that, although the brand is looking for ways to make some goods in the US, “to do it at a large scale is currently not possible.”
“The workers no longer exist here or only in very small, small capacity; the machinery in many instances does not exist here,” Klem said. “It is a very complex problem.”
In a 2015 interview, then-candidate Trump defended the overseas manufacturing of Donald Trump-brand neckties, which he said were mainly made in China due to currency manipulation.
“My ties, many times, are made in China, not all of them, by the way, but a lot of them are made in China, because they have manipulated their currency to such a point that it’s impossible for our companies to compete,” he said at the time.
Spicer also offered the “decline of newspapers” as an example of a product lacking demand in the United States.
“That’s the evolution sometimes of industries, but I’m sure somewhere around the world that newspapers still get delivered in a much greater way than they do here,” Spicer said to laughter in the briefing room.
The White House is using “Made in America Week” to showcase the President’s tax and regulatory policies and priorities, and to spotlight companies and workers making products at home. Trump toured a product showcase at the White House Monday afternoon and proclaimed July 17 “Made in America Day.”