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I was wondering if manufacturers of any country are legally bound to print the true origin of the product while exporting to other country? If yes, who makes sure they are printing the real origin of the product?

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  • It's just the market. People won't buy Chinese stuff labelled "Made in US".
    – Greendrake
    Feb 11 '18 at 22:56
  • @Greendrake how would people know that the mislabeled goods were in fact made in China?
    – phoog
    Feb 11 '18 at 23:09
  • @phoog A customer who really wants to verify the origin can outrule "Made in US" simply by calling the manufacturer and talking to them about how their US factory goes. No contact details on the packaging? Well, in that case no further evidence needed.
    – Greendrake
    Feb 11 '18 at 23:30
  • @Greendrake surely if they were sufficiently interested in misleading people about the origin of their goods they could make up a story about their US factory.
    – phoog
    Feb 12 '18 at 1:58
  • Slightly relevant: the old story about products from Usa, Japan being exported with "MADE IN USA" labels (sadly an urban legend): snopes.com/business/genius/usa.asp
    – tardigrade
    Feb 12 '18 at 17:14
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The same things that stop people robbing banks ... it's illegal

Start with consumer protection law that are common in almost any country.

For example, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is the "police" at a national level for the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Each state has "mirror" legislation that cover areas where Federal power doesn't reach due to constitutional limitations and they have their own "police".

With respect to Misleading and Deceptive Conduct they say:

It is illegal for a business to engage in conduct that misleads or deceives or is likely to mislead or deceive consumers or other businesses. This law applies even if you did not intend to mislead or deceive anyone or no one has suffered any loss or damage as a result of your conduct.

And with respect to False and Misleading statements:

It is illegal for a business to make statements that are incorrect or likely to create a false impression. This includes advertisements or statements in any media (print, radio, television, social media and online) or on product packaging, and any statement made by a person representing your business.

And, specifically about Country of Origin claims:

If you choose to make a country of origin claim, or are legally required to do so, it must be clear, accurate and truthful.

How to safely make a country of origin claim

It’s up to individual businesses to work out what type of origin claim they can make about their products. To provide certainty to businesses, the ACL sets out four situations where you can safely make a country of origin claim without it raising concerns under the law. These are referred to as ‘safe harbour defences’.

The safe harbours cover claims that goods:

  1. were grown in a particular country
  2. are the produce of a particular country
  3. were made or manufactured in, or otherwise originated in, a particular country
  4. carry a mark specified in an information standard relating to country of origin.

If a business satisfies the criteria for a safe harbour defence they will have an automatic defence against an allegation that they have breached the relevant section of the ACL insofar as the claim concerns a country of origin.

Failure to satisfy the requirements of a safe harbour doesn’t mean that a business is unable to make that particular country of origin claim. A business may still make the claim provided they are confident an ordinary and reasonable consumer wouldn’t consider it to be false, misleading or deceptive.

Sanctions for breach:

Consumers—or other businesses—that believe they have been misled by a business and suffered damages as a result can pursue the party who has breached the law for damages.

Just as you must adhere to the ACL, so must your competitors. As a business, you also have a right to take action against a competitor if you feel you have suffered loss or damage as a result of them breaching the ACL.

The ACCC, the state and territory consumer protection agencies and any other individual or group can take legal action against businesses for contraventions of the ACL.

The ACCC’s enforcement powers are extensive—for some contraventions it can seek remedies such as criminal or civil pecuniary penalties up to $1.1 million for companies and $220 000 for individuals, infringement notice penalties of up to $108 000 for publicly listed companies, $10 800 for corporations and up to $2160 for individuals, disqualification orders, injunctions to prevent ongoing conduct and corrective advertising orders.

In determining whether to take action, the ACCC gives enforcement priority to matters that demonstrate one or more of a range of factors such as whether the conduct is of significant public interest or concern, is conduct resulting in a substantial consumer (including small business) detriment, is unconscionable conduct, particularly involving large national companies or traders, or is conduct demonstrating a blatant disregard for the law.

While the ACCC may not take action on all matters, many state or territory agencies are well placed to address issues relating to local advertising and selling practices. For small businesses, the Australian Small Business Commissioner or the state-based Small Business Commissioners (in some states) may be able to assist with a dispute or problem.

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