Background

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has modified a withhold release order such that bone black produced by Bonechar Carvão Ativado do Brasil Ltda is admissible at all U.S. ports of entry effective Dec. 4. Brenda Smith, executive assistant commissioner of CBP’s Office of Trade, said this modification “demonstrates that companies are taking the consequences of CBP’s forced labor enforcement seriously.”

Effective Sept. 30, 2019, CBP prevented imports of this product from entering the U.S. based on reasonable suspicion that it was produced using forced labor. However, CBP states, the company has since addressed each of the five indicators of forced labor previously identified in a submission that sufficiently supports claims by the company and an affiliated importer that bone black from the company has not been produced using forced labor since at least August 2020.

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. The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 eliminated a provision that allowed entry of certain forced labor-produced goods if they were not produced domestically in such quantities as to meet consumptive demands. 

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. Importers of detained shipments have three months to either export their goods or provide a certificate of origin and detailed statement demonstrating that the goods were not produced with forced labor. If no such documentation is provided, or if it does not establish admissibility, the goods are subject to seizure.

CBP encourages stakeholders to closely examine their supply chains to ensure that imported goods are not mined, produced, or manufactured, wholly or in part, with prohibited forms of labor; i.e., slave, convict, forced child, or indentured labor. A list of all CBP withhold release orders and findings is available here.

For more information on WROs, please contact Elise Shibles or Nicole Bivens Collinson.

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