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US rage as Clinton opts for Swedish crystal

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 16 Mar 2010, 10:11

Published: 16 Mar 2010 10:11 GMT+01:00

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Hillary Rodham Clinton's State Department handed the multi-million dollar contract to a small Washington DC-based firm who in turn brought in Orrefors, one of Sweden's best-known brands.

The items are to be embellished with the seal of the United States and used for functions at 400 embassies and ambassadors' residences worldwide.

"We are very happy and proud to have won the contract. We are hopeful that this prestigious order will boost our international sales - especially in the USA," company spokesperson Eva-Marie Hagström told The Local on Tuesday.

The order has however been met with angry reactions from some quarters in the US who feel that the contract should have gone to an American firm.

"Hillary Clinton's State Department is spending $5.4 million to buy fine crystal stemware for American embassies - but it won't give the US economy much of a boost," the New York Post tabloid reported on Monday.

Politicians have also expressed concern over sending the prestigious contract overseas while unemployment remains high in the US.

"This is about fighting for American jobs. The US government should not turn its back on American workers and send job opportunities abroad," Republican Pat Tiberi and Democrat Eric Massa wrote in a letter to Hillary Clinton two weeks ago, according to news agency TT.

The firm, located in Sweden's Kingdom of Crystal in rural Småland in southern Sweden, explained that it had brought home the order in the face of stiff competition and that the US state department had warmed to the firm's environmental profile.

Story continues below…

"We won the contract for our design but they were also interested in our lead-free products and environmentally-friendly approach to glass making," Eva-Marie Hagström said.

The specially designed glass dinnerware series is taken from a classic Orrefors model created by Gunnar Cyrén and has been given the name Jasmine.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:37 March 16, 2010 by Åskar
The US protectionism strikes again.
11:39 March 16, 2010 by Swedesmith
Nice to know where our tax money goes. Meanwhile the rest of us eat (those of us who can) on cheap plates and dishes we buy from Walmart.
11:46 March 16, 2010 by johnnyrebel
Since her husband had such a big hand in the mass exodus of American jobs...why would she give a hoot about buying American? The politicians have sold us down the river.
11:49 March 16, 2010 by karex

So your point is... that US Embassies should drink from glass instead of crystal like the rest of the country?
12:29 March 16, 2010 by Nemesis
So according to Americans, Europeans should not buy American.

OK. Lets here it for buy European only and disown anyone who buys from the USA.

Do you people in America know how stupid that would be. Grow up. We live in a global market, which you created. If you don´t like it, don´t impose it in the first place.
12:37 March 16, 2010 by uunbeliever
Ha ha, just like radios, tv's, cars. . .the list goes on. Made in USA= crap.
13:00 March 16, 2010 by calebian22
This is not about buying American over Sweden, per se. This is about luxury items in embassies that represent the US, not Sweden, at State sponsored dinners and gatherings. When potentially asked by foreign dignitaries about the stem and flatware, at a US embassy, the better answer would be Corning of New York, not Kosta Boda. The US taxpayer has a legitimate gripe especially since they are paying for it.
13:06 March 16, 2010 by Craptastical
OK, I'm American and I can't name a single American company which falls in the "fine crystal" category. Can you? If you can, then do you know if that company can produce at that volume? From looking at the budget that's a _lot_ of crystal.

If not, then are you saying the State Dept. should be in the business of starting/up-fitting an American company to do this? No? Then stop bitching about the choice.
13:09 March 16, 2010 by livinginsweden
The lady knows class when she sees one... bring a bit of fine taste to brashness....

ha ha
13:12 March 16, 2010 by square
Agree with Calebian. This is not just about purchasing general goods, but about national promotion. And when putting a US seal on it, kind of makes sense to try and use US product. And i'm not even American.

Fair play to Orrefors though. Job Done!
13:29 March 16, 2010 by Miss Kitten
It's also about the American government and people acknowledging that there's no place for protectionism in this interconnected and interdependent global economy in which we all live.
13:29 March 16, 2010 by bocagill
This reminds of when i was a kid visiting Washington D.C and iask my father why the captiol and the white house little figures souvenir where made in china
13:35 March 16, 2010 by peropaco
Not so long a go in the UK people went out in the street to bitch about "British jobs for British works".. (Lindsey refinery )They were crying that some contract went to an Italian company. Dont remember anyone yelling at the Brits "we live in a global market".
13:40 March 16, 2010 by johnnyrebel
Actually, Miss Kitten...it is more symbolic of how the government has betrayed the peoples interests in the pursuit of globalism on behalf of the corporate elite and banking elite. So far the rush to globalism has produced a nearly bankrupt economy...what is in it for the people?

What makes anyone think that globalism is sustainable? Its only an experiment...with disastrous consequenses for the average person so far. Fine crystal...what a mug.
13:48 March 16, 2010 by calebian22

Steuben glass from her Senatorial state of New York, would have been a fine choice. Since she was a carpetbag senator though, she probably knew nothing about this high end glassware company.
14:06 March 16, 2010 by Swedecakes
OK, after a little research I find these two statements.

First from State Department: Department spokesman Darby Holladay said Systems Design couldn't find a domestic producer who could meet the 100 percent lead-free requirement, although a Steuben spokesman said it does manufacture lead-free crystal.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/hill_nub_of_ny_firm_is_crystal_clear_FYR65jDt5RHnO4X4CLOaFL#ixzz0iLNp9PRW

Then from Orrefors: "We won the contract for our design but they were also interested in our lead-free products and environmentally-friendly approach to glass making," Eva-Marie Hagström said.

According to one internet source, there is an Environmental Protection Agency corrective action that Steuben has not completed.

The USA does need to protect and create jobs, but not at the expense of the environment. This is where Sweden excels.
14:20 March 16, 2010 by sissygirl
I do think at a time of economic worry, they should have bought American. But at least the glaases will be Swedish, ya know high quality, rather than made in China
14:30 March 16, 2010 by calebian22

Where was this internet source that you found? I would be interested in reading it. I found all kinds of lead free references about Steuben Crystal, but nothing about outstanding EPA violations.
14:38 March 16, 2010 by Swedecakes
Hi, Calebian22 -

Here's the link:


By the way, I am from the US and returning to live there this coming summer, and I want people to have jobs. But the US definitely needs to clean up its environmental act!
14:42 March 16, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer
I own a few pieces of Orrefors, and I will say, it is some beautiful, worthwhile stuff, but Clinton, as usual, acts without thinking. Same can be said for most of the Obama cabinet.

Any other country would use thier governmental facilities to showcase the best thier country has to offer, same should be said for the Americans.
14:43 March 16, 2010 by sissygirl
Swedecakes: You'll miss the beautiful Swedish summer. But welcome home.
14:44 March 16, 2010 by GLO

The US is sinking in RED ink...

Every US Embasy has generations of World Class Dinnerware.

Hey! Thats all they Do ???

We have 30+ MILLION Americans OUT of NO Work

Thats OK The President Wanna Be Has the time and purpose to sit around and buy crap we dont need..

Oh! not to worry.. She has plenty of spare time and nothing much else is going on during her watch....

14:54 March 16, 2010 by johnnyrebel
Yea GLO for the dose of reality...the real story isnt about Steuben vs. Orrefors is it? Its about the rage...the outrage. So many out of work...so many on food stamps. People get a little testy when they are having a difficult time feeding their children.
15:30 March 16, 2010 by cogito
The country is bleeding and the Obama administration decides all the ambassadors and their pals need new glasses from which to quaff the champagne and fine wines they consume in great quantities.

What was wrong with the old glasses?

How much is this costing the American taxpayer?
15:54 March 16, 2010 by calebian22

I see on your link that the site was assessed in 93, but the site was not identified as necessary for cleanup in step 2 by the EPA . It doesn't seem as there is anything that should have disqualified Steuben Crystal in regards to the EPA. According to Steuben Crystal they have lead free products. Frankly, the excuse that was given that there are no 100 percent lead free manufacturers in the US is a bit thin.
16:32 March 16, 2010 by Miss Kitten
Well said! Everyone who lives in the US should buy American! It's their patriotic duty to do so. Of course this means that they won't be able to buy most American brands of clothing and shoes since they are manufactured overseas, most American brands of computers and electronics for the same reason, and most American cars since many of the components are manufactured abroad and often the entire car is assembled in Mexico.

Hmm...what to do..Buying American is a nice idea but it just isn't a straight forward process anymore.

But isn't is nice that we are able to do this? I mean, just think about how incredibly fortunate we all are that we actually have the time to sit in front of our shiny computers, sipping fresh coffee made from uncontaminated water and updating the apps on our iPhones, all while ranting over Hillary Clinton's decision to buy fine crystal stemware from a Swedish company. These are things that most people in the world can't even imagine let alone dream about, and yet here we are more concerned about this than we should be.

We should all consider ourselves lucky that we have the time and inclination to care about something so trivial.
16:55 March 16, 2010 by Swedesmith
To me the main issue is not about buying only American made products (although I think it's a patriotic thing to do), the main issue is 5.4 million dollars being spent so the elite dignitaries can dine and drink in high style while the rest of us scrimp and save just to get by. It's a double insult when there are so many unfortunate people out of work. These leaders who think they are so far above the rest of us are the very ones who screwed up the economy in the first place.
17:07 March 16, 2010 by CA Swede
John Smith started the day early having set his alarmclock

(MADE IN JAPAN) for 6 am.

While his coffeepot (MADE IN CHINA)

was perking, he shaved with his electric razor (MADE IN HONG KONG)

He put on a dress shirt (MADE IN SRI LANKA),

designer jeans (MADE IN SINGAPORE)

and tennis shoes (MADE IN KOREA)

After cooking his breakfast in his new electric skillet


he sat down with his calculator (MADE IN MEXICO)

to see how much he could spend today. After setting his watch


to the radio (MADE IN INDIA)

he got in his car (MADE IN GERMANY)

filled it with GAS (from Saudi Arabia)

and continued his search for a good paying AMERICAN JOB.

At the end of yet another discouraging and fruitless day

checking his Computer (made in MALAYSIA),

John decided to relax for a while. He put on his sandals


poured himself a glass of wine (MADE IN FRANCE)

and turned on his TV (MADE IN INDONESIA)

and then wondered why he can't find a good paying job in AMERICA


17:26 March 16, 2010 by JosefEugen
What rage? Searching this story turns up this article and very little else. By the way Massa resigned in disgrace "after an ethics investigation into his conduct, and allegations of sexual harassment of staffers, became public". The New York Post is a tabloid with no credibility. What is The Local?
17:39 March 16, 2010 by tollermann
@ Byggare Bob

thanks for the spelling lesson "it's fjord"

that's Norway, I knew

No Swedish dollar, no euro dollar, just the Swedish krona...

But we take your point.
18:33 March 16, 2010 by wenddiver
We are a Republic dam'it. Nobody should be buying crystal on the tax payers dime. We are also a nation at war, so our leaders shouldn't be buying luxuory goods, that are not necessary.

For the record, the last glass I was handed at a US Government function was made in Ireland. Our trade barriers have been down for a very long time.

This has not been reciprocated, generally. If you want to buy an American car in Europe or Japan it generally has to be made there (think FORD or OPEL of Germany). Admittidly they all are getting better about building their factories here.

I try not to buy from Communist China, because of their record on Freedom and Human rights.

It would be nice if our embassies cold show off our peoples talents in something other than building fighter planes.
19:16 March 16, 2010 by volvoman9
@karex You are missing the point I fear. 5.4 million for stem ware. They shouldn't be using glass instead of crystal but plastic instead of glass. No America has no fine crystal manufacturers but tupperware makes some great plastic glasses.
19:42 March 16, 2010 by texasgubbar
Most of the knuckdraggers complaining about this were probably suprised that glass blowing exists in Switzerland.
20:43 March 16, 2010 by Atlas
Sometimes people blew this out of proportions...Without international trade, nobody can survive. One country can't and will not ever have the possibility to produce everything for its citizens.

To my american friends (was in college there, liked the place), please grow up.

There is nothing wrong for a foreign company to win a bid to make glassware, as well as there is nothing wrong for an American company to supply Europe with goods.

Remember, most of your electronic equipments you use daily are Made in Asia, so are most of your clothes as well. It doesn't make any sense to raise the voice about glassware Made in Sweden when your everyday objects are not Made in USA mostly.

I have a question though: All the US embassies around the world, are they built with bricks and concrete Made in USA, is the steel from US Steel, or the electricity and tap water do they come from US as well, how about the earth where the embassies are built, do they come from US as well? It will be nice to know that, if you have to tell the dignitaries that really 100% they are in an enviroment truly MADE IN USA.


Probably it the same people in D.C. who wanted Northrop Grumman and EADS out of Pentagond tankers bid, because Boeing bitched about it, although it would have created american jobs as well.

I guess in US no European company can do business for US govenment without lynching, while it's perfectly OK for any US company to do business with European goverments.

Maybe we should start asking our governments to provide more European jobs and looking for Made in Europe products.
20:47 March 16, 2010 by johnnyrebel
I understand that Hillary said after hearing about the fallout of her purchase...Let them eat cake!!
21:13 March 16, 2010 by Greg in Canada
Well at least it wasn't outsourced to China like almost everything else.

This was a politically incorrect gesture, but the reality is that the USA doesn't manufacture things at home like they used to.
22:45 March 16, 2010 by dizzymoe33
Even though I am an American I am happy for Sweden. It says it was a Washington company that won the contract but they then in turn subcontracted out to Sweden that is a win/win. I don't know which Washington they mean though we have two one is Washington State on the West Coast which is where I am from and then there is Washington D.C..
23:21 March 16, 2010 by wenddiver
@Atlas- the US military already uses quite a bit of equipment purchased in Europe. Beretta 9mm pistols our Army didn't want. H&K pistols and Submachine guns that they did want. Squad Automatique Weapons from Fabrique National that they did want. Tons of GLOCK and SIG Sauer pistols for the Federal Law Enforcement, etc., etc.

Boeing however is the Gold Standard in Aircraft, so trying to pawn off a French bird that is bigger than the specs was kind of unrealistic, besides the pilots wanted the Boeing. In the US the pilots always get what they want, even if the rest of the military has to do without to pay for it.
23:59 March 16, 2010 by Griggy
The point is, l think, that the embassy of any country should showcase their own country's products as a matter of national pride, whenever possible. The fact that this article speaks of the US "outrage" prompts a lot of remarks about protectionism, globalization and other comments that are not relevant. They probably wouldn't be mentioned if this was an article about any country other than the US's feelings om the matter.

For example, if Sweden's embassies worldwide were to mandate that all embassy vehicles would henceforth be supplied by a Japanese manufacturer, would no one in Sweden question why didn't the country choose Sweden's Volvo? Oh, right...l forgot. Nevermind!
02:16 March 17, 2010 by soultraveler3
@CA Swede in comment #31

You can replace all those "American" references with "Swedish" and change the name from John Smith to Johan Svensson and come up with the exact same story.

Not sure what you were trying to accomplish with your story there. That same story would fit just about any country in the EU or Americas.
02:39 March 17, 2010 by JoeSwede
@CA Good point.

It's ok for the US to buy from Sweden as long as Sweden buys from the US. Reciprical trade. There's a big difference between the Swedish American trade and the Chinese American trade.
03:36 March 17, 2010 by volvoman9
I think the real laugh here should be the God awful photo of Mrs Clinton. One can almost sympathize with poor Bill........ Almost.
07:57 March 17, 2010 by xenyasai
@Nemesis: I am with you on that one. I would love if everyone in Europe had the balls to not buy anything from the USA for one year and see how they would like that.

They have the same attitude in Australia. They boast about their Australian owned and Australian made produce, because they want to keep the money in the country.

Eventually that attitude will either go away or bite them in the arse.
08:35 March 17, 2010 by karex

Well judging from the millions of tons of plastic trash the US dumps into the environment on a DAILY basis I'm not sure that I agree with your idea of using plastic instead of glass. I was shocked at my last business trip where I stayed at a TOP hotel chain and saw them throw away daily bags and bags of plasic cups, forks, knives, spoons, styrofoam a and paper glasses and paper plates.

What's wrong with a dishwasher?
09:29 March 17, 2010 by CA Swede
soultraveler3, #43

My point is that we have already sold out to the rest of the world and have very little manufacturing compared to what we used to have. As you correctly put it it's the same in most western countries. As long as Americans are willing to buy cheap crap at Walmart made in China why does it matter. Don't bitch at what the government does if you yourself are not willing to do it differently.

The second point is we have a president that cares very little about America, as a matter of fact he seems to apologize to the world for us every chance he gets so my point is you sewed the seeds now swallow the fruit.

Personally I think all nations need to guard their industry infrastructure and manufacturing and keep a certain ability to compete or soon China will own it all. When the choice and ability disapears and they have us by the balls prices will go up and we will see that we would have been better off doing it locally.
09:53 March 17, 2010 by Åskar

What exactly has the USA being a republic got to do with anything in this discussion?
10:16 March 17, 2010 by johnnyrebel
volvoman9...The scariest thing about the face...it could of been the current sitting president. That would of made 28 years of a Bush-Clinton regime. One wonders if perhaps the USA is not exactly getting the cream of the crop in terms of leadership.

CASwede...You made a good point that really did not require much of an explanation. Globalism has been a nightmare for the American worker...the American middle class.
10:28 March 17, 2010 by Kooritze
@ CA Swede

well said.....this is the kind of world we live in. Products come from all over the globe. To grow in this global world every nation must produce goods cheaply or of extremely high quality where buyers are prepared to pay. Much of Sweden,s products come into the later category.

Well done on getting the contract I say.
10:51 March 17, 2010 by believe
I live in the heart of the good ol' USA. Yeah, we need jobs. My 21 year old son has been out of work for 15 months! I, for one, am glad to see that Sweden got the contract and not Japan or China. Any decent job has already been outsourced to Mexico, India, China, or Japan. There is nowhere in the USA where we make crystal or any goods such as that. Again, congrats to you Sweden! Not to worry....USA will pull thier fingers out of their arse and come up with some wild money making scheme....it's what we do best after all. Survive.
11:11 March 17, 2010 by AirForceGuy
It's too bad the US has spent so much money and American lives (much more than it's 'share') in the last 60 years protecting Europe and the rest of the world from Nazism, Facism, Communism and the radical Islamics. This money may have better been spent on building up American industry and letting the rest of the World defend itself (and pay for it themselves) from the 'evil empires'!
12:47 March 17, 2010 by karex

That's one interpretation of American Bellic History. Another could also be:

1. that WWII is what pulled the US out of the Great Depression, excuse used: "fighting Nazism"

2. keeping any threat against capitalism as far away from US borders as possible, excuse used: "fighting Facism and Communism";

3. and getting your hands on more and more oil to feed your gas-guzzling automobiles as ckeaply as possible, excuse used: "fighting radical Islamism".

Guess it all depends on one's the point of view.
14:59 March 17, 2010 by slickphilly
lol, "US RAGE"? "Protectionism?" $5.4 million is probably less then the budget for government toilet paper....after the US spent hundreds of billions to boost the economy, 5.4 mil is hardly a drop in the ocean....
00:10 March 18, 2010 by rcm
I don't know if there's any "rage" here in the US about this other than a single New York Post writer. This is the only place that I've even heard about it. If the State Department bought a good product at a fair price from a Swedish company, well, then, good for Orrefors Kosta Boda. And as for my fellow-citizens griping about our State Department spending money on glassware for embassies...please, give it a rest. U.S. foreign policy would not be advanced by having foreign dignitaries drink out of styrofoam.
02:37 March 18, 2010 by badgerknox
This is a bizarre little story. I am in the U.S., near Washington D.C. No one I know cares anything about who makes crystal for the embassies and certainly no one cares that it is a swedish firm. We actually have more important things to worry about here than that.
07:34 March 18, 2010 by johnnyrebel
rom...U.S. foreign policy would not be advanced by having foreign dignitaries drink out of styrofoam.

No...that would be a far too humbling experience.

badgerknox... We actually have more important things to worry about here than that.

Would you mind elaborating on that a bit? I know all the world is curious about what those in the Washington D. C. area worry about. It might give us better insight into the rage of the American people...crystal aside. Do you think any rage really exists?

AirForceGuy...This money may have better been spent on building up American industry and letting the rest of the World defend itself (and pay for it themselves) from the 'evil empires'!

No question about it.
07:40 March 18, 2010 by astrogenic
@believe (post #48)

"I, for one, am glad to see that Sweden got the contract and not Japan or China... There is nowhere in the USA where we make crystal or any goods such as that."

So, what's your problem with the contract going to China or Japan rather than Sweden?

Are you ultra-pro developed world? Aren't there poor people in the developing world, who suffers more than American even when they are unemployed?

You should travel more and widen your perspective, woman!
12:56 March 18, 2010 by believe
geez @ astrogenic. Wow! It's seems everything these days comes from China or Japan. I thought it would be nice to spread the wealth. Sorry if you don't think Sweden should get a small piece of the pie. I haven't travelled in a couple of years. Economy took my vacation savings. I have been to seven countries, one being Japan. Sorry I would love to come to Sweden...have not been there yet. I've only been to twenty six states however. Not too much in the south. So, Astrogenic....where have you been?
19:38 March 18, 2010 by xykat
Sweden is the most Americanized country in Europe. What is the difference really?

Swedes watch so much American television now they are almost American anyway.

I am happy that a Swedish company got the order. This small town will have more jobs for awhile and American embassies will have quality crystal. Its a win win situation.

I support the American economy through Ebay and Facebook as I am sure a lot of other Swedes do!
16:30 March 19, 2010 by mjennin2
Ummm... "U.S. Rage" is quite a hyper-inflationary statement. I can guarentee you that no one is raging over this...lol. What a bunch of baloney. I, too, am extremely happy that Sweden got the order. And along with @xykat, I agree that Sweden partakes so much of American culture as it is, what better place than to purchase (ie support) as friendly and familiar a nation as Sverige?

Bottom line is, we live in a GLOBALIZED ECONOMY. Grow the eff up, people. We buy from the world, the world buys from us, isn't this how Ricardo's Theory of Specialization (that we were all taught in business school!?!!?) works? Let's all stick to our guns here. Sweden makes the best crystal (imo), hands down. America? Not so much. So let America produce and sell what it's best at, and let Sweden do the same.

What a sad day...I am a non-Clinton supporting Republican, and I actually AGREE (for once) with Hilary's wise choice, probably to the dismay of my own people. Very weird day, indeed. TGIF ;)
16:00 March 22, 2010 by Pengy
Hooray for Orrefors. That was cool, and if some yanks get pissed off, all the better. You just need to pray harder to god, maybe something will happen :))
16:21 March 22, 2010 by triodethom
No we are not outraged at the chose of a clean lead free friendly maker of fine crystal . When giving a gift make it world class. Go with what you are great at .
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Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
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