Bipartisan Senate bill introduced that would require online retailers to disclose products’ country of origin
WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) recently reintroduced legislation that would require online retailers to disclose where products are made.
The bill is called the Country of Origin Labeling Online Act or COOL Act. If passed, it would ensure that the country-of-origin be clearly displayed in a product’s description and would also require disclosure of an online seller’s country.
“If you walk into a retail store and you are looking at purchasing something, you can easily look at the label and figure out where it was made, whether that’s clothing or an object that you want to purchase. There is no such requirement for country of origin labeling for online retailers,” said Senator Baldwin.
Baldwin said Americans have a right to know if products they are purchasing are made in America and could help support sales of American-made goods.
“Not only is the COOL Online Act helpful for informing consumers who want to buy America, but it also helps that small businesses be able to fight against, knock off or lower quality products that are produced elsewhere and trying to compete. And we’ve had several Wisconsin small businesses who have had that happen,” said Baldwin.
The bill is co-sponsored by Senators J.D. Vance (R-OH), Rick Scott (R-FL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Mike Braun (R-IN).
Wisconsin small business owner Noel Valdes also supports the legislation after overseas companies in China and Europe started making knock off products based on garden tools his business makes.
He said one UK company that he helped get started in the business copied his garden tool, called CobraHead.
“They just took our design, sent it off to Eastern Europe somewhere, and now they’re bringing that tool into into the US,” said Valdes.
After stalling out in the House in the last Congress, Senator Baldwin said they are trying to pass the bill again.
“We’re going to give it another try and I think it’s particularly important right now because more and more shopping is happening online,” said Baldwin.
Several industry groups like the National Retail Federation (NRF) have opposed the COOL Online Act in the past, saying that it creates a new liability for retailers.
NRF said in a statement that is currently reviewing the newly introduced legislation and has not yet taken an official position yet.
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