Enhancing one’s products by claiming their origin has been an increasing trend over the past few years, as a great number of entrepreneurs now affix the “Made in France” statement onto their goods, knowing that consumers do pay attention to the origin of the products they buy.
However, let alone food products – which are subject to specific regulations, it is also certainly worth using the said statement on manufactured goods, such as tableware or textile items.
While the European regulation authorities are placing greater emphasis on the Freedom of Commerce and Exchanges and do not impose any regulations affecting this “Made in + country of origin” statement on these types of manufactured products, this free and voluntary decision by the entrepreneur to use the said statement to leverage his know-how involves a number of risks he will have to assume.
The entrepreneur must take care in particular not to breach the rules that protect the end consumer under the French Customs code (art.39) and Consumption Code (art.L121 et seq.; art.L213 et 217), whose agents will strictly check the exact origin of the products.
In practice, the manufacturer or the importer of the product should be able to justify the “Made in France” statement affixed on the product. It must be proven, inter alia, that the product has been fully manufactured in France or that its “final substantial transformation” was performed in France.
The latter notion comes from the Community Customs Code (DAC), which provides that the products must “originate in the country where they underwent their last, substantial, economically justified processing or working in an undertaking equipped for that purpose and resulting in the manufacture of a new product or representing an important stage of manufacture” (Article 24 DAC:
Acceptable documents to demonstrate compliance with the above requirement include “annexes, samples, photographs, drawings, catalogues or any documentation concerning the composition of the goods and the constitutive materials of the goods, that can illustrate the manufacturing or processing process applied to such materials” (see the annex to the DAC, page 18:
Consequently, the prudent and diligent entrepreneur will take care to first prepare any relevant documentation to demonstrate the legitimacy of the “Made in France” statement, as affixed onto its manufactured products, should any justification be required by the cognizant authorities.
Finally, and as a means to meet the prevailing requirements in the area of consumer protection, the entrepreneur should also make sure to make this statement both clear and legible, as it is meant to inform consumers on the origin of the product.