The House Armed Services Committee has just approved Rep. Mark Green’sproposal to ban the sale of Chinese-made products in military exchanges and commissaries. Some military resale experts cannot help but worry about its negative effects, especially on exchanges.

HASC Passed the Amendment

Last week, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) passed the NDAA amendment of Rep. Green that would remove made-in-China products from military post exchanges. In a statement, he said,

The Chinese Communist Party believes they can steal our military technology without consequence. We need to show them that isn’t the case. There are consequences to their actions. We must show the CCP that it cannot continue to take advantage of our good faith. Removing Chinese products from our military exchanges is just one step we can take to tighten the bottleneck of American dollars ending up in the pockets of CCP officials.

Congressman Mark Green. (Congressman Mark Green/Facebook)

Green’s proposal would remove and ban all goods manufactured, assembled, or imported from China in the US military post exchanges or commissaries.

We cannot in good conscious continue to sell products on military bases made by slave labor and benefiting the authoritarian regime of the CCP.

Green said in the introduction of his amendment. He believes that America is self-sufficient in terms of providing enough supplies for the military posts. He also does not want the American taxpayers to “foot the bill for Chinese goods that only benefits the fake capitalist economy propagated by the Chinese Communist Party.” 

Opposing the Amendment

The amendment was passed in a bipartisan vote. The Chairman of the Committee, Adam Smith of Washington, District 9, was one of those who opposed it, remarking that it was “unworkable.”

I understand the sentiment behind this, but it is very unworkable. There is simply no way that we can not sell anything that is made in China. We buy a lot of stuff from China. There is no way you can stop it and turn that off. Also, it is a clear violation of the WTO to ban the sale of these products. China and the U.S. economies are very co-dependent. We have to recognize that.

Another one was Rep. Salud Carbajal of California’s 24th District. He said that while the amendment was very patriotic, it would negatively affect military families who would be forced to buy things from the civilian markets and, in turn, pay higher prices.

This was seconded by Rep. Kaiali’i Kahele, saying, “I’m all about buying American-made, but I’ll be opposing this amendment.” He expounded,

I’ve been shopping at the exchanges since 1999. To remove such large numbers of products would negatively affect military families who depend on this benefit to purchase everyday household items at significant cost savings that are not experienced off base.


But how large are of supplies are we exactly talking about?

According to the spokesperson for the Navy Exchange Service Command, Courtney Williams, Navy Exchange “would face an impact of 50% in direct retail sales, strictly on those prohibited products alone.” This does not include possible loss in the number of customers yet that could result from the lack of necessary supplies they are looking for. She also explained that some of the products made in China had no alternatives from the US, so banning these products would not only mean removing specific brands from the shelves but also potentially removing the whole item category without acceptable other options.

Steve Rossetti, the president of a trade organization that represents suppliers of products and services to the military stores called the American Logistics Association, also expressed his dissatisfaction with Green’s proposal, saying that its impact is not significant but devastating.

This practice of [lawmakers] doing to the exchanges and the troops what they don’t have the will or votes to do to the general citizenry has got to stop.

Civilian retail stores are not affected by the ban. Still, if it were to apply outside the military community, it would affect about 80% to 90% of the products sold, still according to Williams.

Front of a Walmart store. (Walmart Corporate from Bentonville, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Meanwhile, Payton McCormick, spokesperson of Walmart, said that almost two-thirds of their products are from the US. A huge chunk of their products is sourced from various countries, although it was not specified how much was sourced from each country, specifically from China.