Effective May 15, the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs has amended its procedural guidelines for the development and maintenance of a list of foreign-made goods it has reason to believe are produced by child labor or forced labor in violation of international standards. ILAB is required to take steps to ensure that the goods on this list are not imported into the U.S. if they are made with forced or child labor, including working with producers to help set standards to eliminate the use of such labor.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2013 requires ILAB to submit a list of such goods to Congress every two years. Under this law, ILAB’s guidelines stated in relevant part as follows: “Whether a good is placed on the List may depend on which stage of production used child labor or forced labor. For example, if child labor or forced labor was only used in the extraction, harvesting, assembly, or production of raw materials or component articles, and these materials or articles are subsequently used under non-violative conditions in the manufacture or processing of a final good, only the raw materials/component articles and the country/ies where they were extracted, harvested, assembled, or produced, as appropriate, may be placed on the List.”

However, the TVPRA of 2018 expanded the scope of this list to include, “to the extent practicable, goods that are produced with inputs that are produced with forced labor or child labor.” As a result, ILAB has replaced the above language in its guidelines with the following: “To the extent practicable, the List will include goods that are produced with inputs that are produced with forced labor or child labor.”

ST&R trade attorney David Olave stated that these changes can create additional challenges for those trying to determine why a specific product is included on the TVPRA list. In addition, he said, they may increase the chances that U.S. Customs and Border Protection uses this list as more than just guidance.

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