Background

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued a new withhold release order that, effective Aug. 4, requires the detention at all U.S. ports of entry of tuna and other seafood harvested by the Hangton No. 112, a Fijian-flagged and -owned fishing vessel. This order was based on information that reasonably indicates the use of forced labor in the vessel’s fishing operations. However, importers of detained shipments will have an opportunity to export their shipments or submit proof to CBP that the seafood was not produced with forced labor.

19 USC 1307 prohibits the importation of goods mined, produced, or manufactured, wholly or in part, in any foreign country by forced labor, including convict labor, forced child labor, and indentured labor. Such goods are subject to exclusion and/or seizure and may lead to criminal investigation of the importer.

When information reasonably but not conclusively indicates that goods within the purview of 19 USC 1307 are being imported, CBP may issue withhold release orders. CBP will then detain such goods for an admissibility determination and exclude them unless the importer demonstrates that they were not made using forced labor. The importer may also export the goods.

Companies in all industries are being encouraged to conduct reviews of their supply chains as international scrutiny of the use of forced labor intensifies. Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg offers a comprehensive suite of services to help companies address forced labor concerns, including supply chain reviews, due diligence strategies, and proactive remediation. For more information, please contact Amanda Levitt (at (212) 549-0148) or via email), David Olave (at (202) 730-4960 or via email), or Nicole Bivens Collinson (at (202) 730-4956 or via email).

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