The practice of importation and exportation has been going on for centuries, and over the course of time, countries all over the world have benefitted from these processes significantly. However, due to the financial crisis that has weakened local businesses and countries’ economy, more and more nations are now encouraging their people to support products produced locally in an attempt to strengthen their economy. Countries are capitalizing on the traditional belief that less support on imported products and more on locally-manufactured ones is going to help boost the country’s economy. This essay subscribes to this belief, that citizens buying products which are manufactured locally will bear significant effects to the economy.
For a long time, imported products have been enjoyed by many. It is true that these products give people a whole lot to choose from which are also considerably cheaper than those which are made locally. However, patronizing goods which are made locally offer opportunities to not only improve the economy but sustain it as well. As Shuman stated, buying local is “nurturing locally owned businesses which use local resources sustainably, employ local workers at decent wages and serve primarily local consumers” (qtd. in Robinson 3).
The greater support locally manufactured products get from the citizens, the higher the demand is going to be for their production. This is one way of nurturing locally owned businesses which are involved in the manufacturing. For instance, companies manufacturing gadgets will need to produce more to be able to provide local citizens the number of items needed. Similarly, manufacturers will get better opportunities to explore and up the level of the products to keep up if not surpass the quality of those brands which are sold internationally. Local manufacturers can look into the possibilities of adding features to the gadgets that local users will find extremely helpful whether they use them within the country or outside. If citizens find everything they need in these gadgets or other products which are locally made, there won’t be any reasons for them to seek products from other countries. In the process, small businesses will have higher chances of making it big and contribute more to the local economy.
Proliferation of small businesses will result to competition in the market, and since said businesses are locally owned, the benefits still remain to these companies to enjoy. Innovation becomes the focal point of the competition as each manufacturer vies for greater people support in order to be ahead of the game. Greater number of small businesses also translates to products which suit the interests of the companies as well as the needs of the local customers instead of those which are geared towards national sales. This will ensure a variety of products to choose from, an advantage that importation used to offer. Aside from innovation, lower prices are also seen as another long term benefit of the increased number of businesses. With the competition brought about by a great number of businesses, affordability is likewise a consideration in purchasing products.
Researches have arrived to the conclusion that entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to focus on enriching businesses for a certain community that will help them preserve the authenticity of the businesses (Robinson 2010). Influx of foreign-owned businesses in a community tends to overshadow the charm of locally-owned businesses, which usually offer products that are specifically modelled according to the needs and tastes of the locals. These products are unique and represent the community, giving it an identity that the local can take pride of. Foreign companies take on an international sales plan, thereby setting standards on the products that will make them acceptable to any country that they will be sold.
Along with the increase in demand for local products, production of raw materials that are used in making the said products also surges. Supporting locally made products that use locally sourced materials to build them is another way of empowering local businesses. Raw material producers get to take advantage of the natural resources of the community and utilize them properly. Foreign companies have extremely high demands for raw materials and letting them source these materials from a certain community usually results to the exploitation of the natural environment. Local companies that supply these raw materials, on the other hand, don’t carry the burden of producing materials in such large quantities. They are also members of the said community and caring for their own environment will surely come naturally. In the process, local producers get to improve their businesses and protect their environment as well.
Higher demands for locally made products and production of raw materials for them secure more jobs for the locals (SSU School of Business and Economics 3). With the expansion of local businesses, more workers are needed in order to successfully provide the demands. This is also similar with the producers of raw materials. Locals are then presented with the opportunity to have jobs which will pay decent wages. It is said that small local businesses employ more locals at a national level (Robinson 3). Businesses within a community would naturally hire people who are also members of the community, thereby encouraging an economic activity within a community. In the field of construction, for instance, employing contractors, sub-contractors, and skilled labourers is not only favourable to the economic growth of the whole community but these workers can offer wisdom and experience that have to do with building to the specific area (Sadler). Continuous support in local products is seen to strengthen and stabilize the levels of employment in the community.
Purchasing local products ensures that money is kept within the community. This presents an opportunity for the money to be spent again locally and in the process create a higher level of economic activity. In importation, money goes out of the community as payments are made from local stores to foreign owned companies (Investopedia Staff). The outward movement of money takes away the opportunity for the community to build a more stable tax base that the locals in turn can benefit from through public infrastructures such as schools and hospitals, and government services as well (Robinson 3). Boyle likened money to blood, citing that for the economy to keep moving, money should keep moving around (qtd. in Schwartz). He further explained that when money goes out of the community, it is like a bleeding wound where blood flows out (qtd. in Schwartz). Keeping the money moving in the community presents the likeability of reinvestment as the more retailers and locals buy locally manufactured goods, the economic value of its production is being retained as there is revenue made in every stage of purchase (Schwartz). In addition, money that circulates within the community gives local businesses helps the business grows, thereby making them capable to pay their workers more salaries. These employees who in turn also supports local products and businesses contributes in keeping the economy circulating by putting back the money to the community, which highlights the necessity to encourage and educate local citizens to support and buy local.
Speed of circulation of money within a community is also enhanced by purchasing local products. Circulation speed is explained by how fast money transfers from one hand to the other, giving people more opportunity to enjoy what the money has purchased for them. Economists describe velocity or circulation speed as constant, something that has to be stable in order for the economy to function properly (Schwartz). If money does not circulate fast or grows stagnant, an imbalance in the economy ensues as there will be more money printed but is not moving.
Strengthening of local businesses also benefits charitable institutions. Studies prove that local businesses will more likely support and contribute fundraisers and local charities than international companies will (Robinson 5). These charitable institutions give back by helping improve the lives of the people and the community as a whole. In a nutshell, when everyone in the community becomes involved in the economic activity by purchasing local products becomes involved in shaping the lives of everyone in the community as well.
Harmony within the community is also encouraged by buying local products as people are buying products from people they know. Trust is developed from consumers who believe that local businesses are going to provide them with top quality products, and from these businesses which trust and look into the continued support of the people to their products. In the process, businesses bear the pressure of the consumers’ expectations that the products they are providing are what the consumers need and want them to be. Producing products which come at par with those sold at international markets will further encourage local retailers and consumers to look into their own backyards and support their own produce.
Initially, local businesses should be able to offer the citizens products that will meet their needs and expectations. It is not feasible to encourage people to support local products if there is nothing much to offer, especially when imported goods abound and priced cheaper as well. However, when small local businesses are able to establish products that local citizens need and want, their purchasing behaviour alters significantly, more so when they are made to understand the incentives that they get in return when buying local products. This is when harmonious relationship and economic balance occurs. As support to local products also gives local people a sense of identity and sense of pride, intensifying the individual sense of nationalism is also seen to follow.
When products are produced locally, the environment suffers less. For one, local businesses make purchases of raw materials from local producers which are usually found near the area. This requires less transportation as opposed to buying materials from other countries or producers. In the process, carbon emission is reduced, making the environment less polluted (Sadler). At the same time, energy consumption is also lessened as less oil will be used to obtain the materials needed. The cut in the energy cost makes the production cheaper, providing businesses to allocate the saved amount to improving other aspects of production. Similarly, materials that are transferred to nearby places do not require a lot of packaging materials. This spells out less need for packaging materials that may only go to waste after they are used. In the end, less waste also translates to less need for landfill sites (Robinson 6). Ultimately, local purchase of raw materials benefits the environment as well as the animals and the people in it.
Transporting products present the hazards of having them broken due to the stress placed on them during the transport. This is why a lot of imported goods get returned to manufacturers
which mean reduced income and more cost for the production. However, locally produced products rarely encounter this problem as they don’t need to be transported in faraway places. Small local businesses cater to businesses within the community, thereby reducing the distance that have to be travelled in order to deliver the products. This in return reduces the possibilities of having broken or defective products as a result of exposing them to the stress caused by the transport. As such, no product is wasted and consumers do not suffer the frustration and troubles of having to return the product.
Supporting local products help local citizens save money from paying travel fare or buying gas, thereby producing savings for the customers (BenefitOf.net). As most shops are only found around the corners, consumers only have to walk to get to their destinations and make their purchases. The same is the case should the need to alter or modify the products arise. Citizens only have to stop by the shops on their way to work or wherever they are headed instead of scheduling a trip to be able to get there. In the process, people are also able to save precious time that they can otherwise use to other productive activities. Also, as people are familiar with each other, services are also personalised. Employees in shops don’t have so much complaint to attend to and so customers who come every now in then to consult about the products are given proper attention and services. This is not the case of products sold internationally wherein complaints and repairs are usual part of the employees’ daily job.
Looking closely at importation, it does not really pose too much harm in the economy. Quite the opposite, by looking at what is sold in the international market, Susan Witt points out to how small local businesses are able to see the gaps in their own community’s market (qtd. in Schwartz). As a result, small businesses realize the need to produce similar products which are more appropriate for the people of the community. There is also the factor of the availability of materials that can be used in the production, taking into consideration what can be found within the background to be able to benefit other smaller businesses in the processes. One particular instance given by Witt is socks. Socks sold internationally can be produced in a community which has access to wool and modify the material used, localizing it in the process (qtd. in Schwartz). Not only is the citizen provided with a unique product but local materials are also utilized in the process, giving sheep raisers an avenue where they can sell their products.
Once a community has reached economic growth, more and more skilled people will be encouraged to put up their business as well, further increasing the number of small businesses. Promoting entrepreneurship is crucial to assure that local businesses will continue to grow and propagate. The continuous increase in number of small businesses will likewise encourage nurturing existing businesses for them to be able to grow and to avoid relocation in search of other markets (Robinson 8).
Promoting entrepreneurship can be sustained when a community is able to produce new blood of talented artists and entrepreneurs. These future entrepreneurs would naturally find locations that will offer good public transportation systems, amenities like restaurants and bars, and residential and retail developments (Robinson 8). These improvements in the community are some of the results of shopping locally, an expansion in the community area that can be enjoyed by future citizens and entrepreneurs alike. Locals who are able to realize the viability of developing a business in the community that represents stability and growth are less likely to leave. These young minds are those who are going to keep the community moving and their contributions will remain if they see the incentives when they stay.
Buying local is not about being totally independent from other countries. It is simply a means of helping the community’s economy to get back to its feet until it becomes healthy again. With the nosedive that the global economy has taken in the past years, imbalance in the importation of products did not only weaken a country’s economy but has crippled a lot of small local businesses. A close scrutiny of the economic situation of the once strong countries that were affected by the economic crisis shows that buying local is a feasible way of reviving the economy.
Investopedia explains that importation is not necessarily detrimental to a country’s economy. It is in fact an indication of a robust economy especially so when the import materials are productive assets such as machineries which can help improve and increase production. However, there should be balance in everything and the same goes for economy. With exportation should come the same if not lower amount of importation as growth in export and decline in import could be an indication that the rest of the world is doing better than how the domestic economy is performing (Investopedia Staff).
Witt points out to how buying local can also define a country’s local/regional resilience (qtd. in Schwartz). Although a community’s economy can function independent of foreign influence, there is still the challenge of adapting to the changing needs and market conditions. Local businesses which have the confidence vote of its people acquire the flexibility that it needs to be able to keep up to the continuous shift of the economy. This highlights the importance of working hand in hand between local businesses and its citizens to be able to remain strong, resilient, and self-sufficient enough to stand the challenges brought about by the changes in the local and international market.
As indicated by this essay, buying local products is one practical measure that countries can take in order to salvage the economy. There are numerous benefits that can be gained and the citizens are those who are in the receiving end of these improvements. It is worth taking note that for these benefits to materialize, buying local should also start from the people. If people are made to see the benefits that they can continue to enjoy even in the future, campaigns that push loyalty towards local products will become a reality. Although the wide varieties of products that people can enjoy from importing are attractive, heightened by the low costs that come with them, the benefits of buying local far outweigh them.
Local communities are presented with the opportunity to grow financially and socially by buying locally produced products. National pride is also developed and in the process makes the sense of nationalism even stronger. A strong economy gives a country’s people confidence and this confidence is reciprocated by the citizens’ continuous support to its local businesses. Better communities are what define modern capitalism and for it to be feasible, small local enterprises should remain strong. The benefits of people supporting local products enumerated in this essay also illustrate how strong the collective efforts of the people can shape the economy. It is then wrong assumption that the government should be depended on to salvage the economy as there are so much more that the people can do. That said, people should take responsibility and shop accordingly, which means buying local.
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Sadler, Jake. “Buying Locally”. Green Home and Living Guide. 24 March 2011. Web.
Schwartz, Judith D. “Buying Local: How It Boosts the Economy”. Time. 11 June 2009. Web.
SSU School of Business and Economics. “The Economics of Going Global.” Biztips. February