Country Of Origin Labeling Is Cool

photo of John Michael Pierobon By: John Michael Pierobon

The other day the mother board on my computer died. When I opened my computer to diagnose the problem, on the bottom I noticed in big letters the words "Country Of Origin China".

Country Of Origin Labeling (COOL) is not only cool, it is used to indicate where a product is manufactured, produced, processed, or grown. Free trade agreements have rules of origin, and COOL is one of them.

Every country has its own COOL laws. For example, United States law "requires that every article of foreign origin (or its container) imported into the United States shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article (or container) will permit, in such manner as to indicate to an ultimate purchaser in the United States the English name of the country of origin of the article, at the time of importation into the Customs territory of the United States." This law has been in effect since 1930.

COOL is important for many reasons. It determines the import duty on the product and may entitle the product to a preferential duty as part of a free trade agreement. COOL also determines whether the product can be legally imported. Some countries impose quotas on products from other counties.

Bureaucrats like COOL because it provides statistical reporting on what is imported from where.

COOL is also beneficial to the importer because it facilitates the clearing of customs and differentiates the product. Imported products are usually sold at a premium price.

A manufacturer usually completes a certificate of origin and makes sure the importer has a copy at the time a customs declaration is made. If an incorrect country of origin declaration is made or if the country of origin is misrepresented, the shipment may be refused or confiscated by customs.

John Michael Pierobon is an Internet consultant based in Fort Lauderdale.
John Michael may be reached by sending electronic mail to

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