DHS Cracks Down on Goods Produced by China’s State-Sponsored Forced Labor
Are you Aware: CBP Issued Region-Wide Withhold Release Order (WRO) on
Products Made by Slave Labor in Xinjiang (Effective: 1/13/2021)
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have issued several Withhold Release Orders (WRO) for products from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Products produced with state-sponsored forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are suspected of engaged human rights abuses. CBP, as late as January 13, 2021, is issuing WRO’s for human rights violations against the Uyghur people and other ethnic and religious minorities. Two concerns have been cited to create the WROs. First, it puts American workers at a disadvantage, and second, it protects against participating in egregious human rights violations. Acting DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli stated in part, “The U.S. is demanding the Chinese close their camps and stop their human rights violations.”
Trade Groups Seek Congressional help on Forced Labor Enforcement:
CBP has announced, importers are responsible for ensuring the products they attempt to import should not exploit forced labor at any point in their supply chains, including the production or harvesting of the raw material.
On January 27, 2021, a letter from Trade associations addressed to Congress urged Congress to incorporate specific principles into any efforts to address the enforcement against forced labor.
What is subject to this WRO?
The production or harvesting of the raw material. Products include apparel, textiles, tomato seeds, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and other goods made with cotton and tomatoes from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, an economic and paramilitary organization subordinate to the Chinese Communist Party. CBP enforces the prohibition of importing such merchandise, and importers are responsible for ensuring these products are not imported to the U.S.
CBP encourages importers/shippers to review the FAQs, which are available here. Additional information about all WROs currently in force can be found by visiting the CBP.gov website. CBP also encourages the trade community to subscribe to text or email updates from the agency by clicking here.
Please contact your Western Overseas representative if you have any further questions.