Background

A petition filed with U.S. Customs and Border Protection Aug. 28 seeks the issuance of a regional withhold release order that would detain imports of the following products at U.S. borders due to concerns that they are being made with forced labor.

- all finished textile and apparel goods assembled by supplier companies in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

- all finished textile and apparel goods that contain inputs (including cotton, yarn, or fabric) produced by companies that own or operate facilities in the XUAR that have accepted Chinese government subsidies or employed workers provided by the government, regardless of whether the finished goods are produced in the XUAR (including in other countries)

The petition asserts that there is an “abundance of evidence” that “the system of forced labor is so extensive that there is reason to believe that most cotton-based products linked to the Uyghur region are a product wholly or in part of forced labor.” The petition indicates that a regional WRO (which CBP has issued once before, against cotton and cotton-made goods originating in Turkmenistan) might induce China to end its program of forced labor in the XUAR by shutting down access to the U.S. market. It might also “have a ripple effect in encouraging other countries to impose import restrictions on forced and/or prison labor made goods under their own laws and regulations.”

In addition to issuing a regional WRO, the petition states, CBP should urge all importers to identify and map their business relationships through all credible means to determine whether they have direct suppliers in the XUAR or suppliers in China or globally that source inputs produced in the XUAR, including fabric, yarn, or cotton. CBP should then work with importers that do have such suppliers so that their suppliers obtain inputs exclusively from sources outside the XUAR that do not used forced Uyghur labor. This should be done as soon as practicable, the petition states, but in any case within six months.

If an importer can establish that its supplier is sourcing inputs exclusively from outside the XUAR from factories not using Uyghur forced labor, those imports would be presumed permissible, barring other evidence to the contrary. If not, its imports would be prohibited after the six-month period.

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