Thursday, July 11, 2013

Is Smithfield Still an American Company if Chinese Purchase Moves Forward?

The CEO of Smithfield Foods--mostly known for their ham, of course, and for being the world's largest pork producer--insists that the purchase of the company by Chinese firm Shuanghui International Holdings will not alter the U.S. company's products or adherence to current production standards. However, CEO Larry Pope goes even further by saying that Smithfield, even after the Chinese takeover, will still be "an American company." How so? Yes, the takeover will mean that U.S. workers at Smithfield will keep their jobs--for now--but the company will be owned by a Chinese firm, and thus will no longer be an American company; workers at Smithfield will be working for Chinese owners. To elide this fact is misleading and delusive, and it blurs the larger issue of American firms being sold off to foreign entities. While this is not anything new, and while American workers are currently employed by many global firms--the largest sector probably being that of the auto industry--we do need to be mindful of the fact that many of the countries that are able to grab up American firms would gawk at an American request to do the same in their own countries. As several Congress members have noted, one of them being Sen. Mike Johanns (R- Neb.), "Chinese regulators would laugh at you if you said, ‘Well, I'll just buy Shuanghui,’” which happens to be China's largest pork producer. Point: companies owned and controlled by countries other than the U.S.A. should not be referred to as "American companies."

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