What Does it Mean to “Buy American, Hire American”?

Laura Weber Davis/WDET

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson (left) with guests Brent Snavely (center) and Ravi Anupini (right)

President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Tuesday encouraging government agencies to fulfill his campaign promise to “Buy American, Hire American.”

But what does it mean, in our global economy, to hyperfocus on making, buying, and selling American products? What would renegotiating trade deals with foreign countries do to bolster American manufacturing and business? If the Trump administration wants companies to prioritize hiring American workers, what jobs await those workers, and what does it mean for the future of the companies?

The president of the United Auto Workers union recently said that to “buy American” is to buy products that are made in America, even if by foreign-owned companies. 

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks about the future of making and buying things in America with Detroit Free Press auto reporter Brent Snavely, and professor of operations research and management at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, Ravi Anupindi.

The industry has changed dramatically since the ‘80s… and yet this is still an incredibly passionate topic,” says Snavely.

Snavely says Trump was able to tap into the angst surrounding changes in the auto industry during his campaign. And he says buying American-made products gets sticky quickly when you consider manufacturing plants in the south that are making Toyotas or other foreign-company cars.

Anupindi says the phrase “Buy American” is confusing in practical application. 

Today we live in a globalized world where supply chains are completely global,” says Anupindi. “To even figure out what [buy American] means is very hard.”

To hear the whole conversation on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.


Image credit: Laura Weber Davis/WDET

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Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


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