Background

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced a new withhold release order that, effective Jan. 13, requires the detention at all U.S. ports of entry of all cotton products and all tomato products grown or produced by entities operating in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. These products include apparel, textiles, tomato seeds, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and other goods made with cotton and tomatoes.

CBP said this order is based on information that reasonably indicates the use of detainee or prison labor and situations of forced labor in the XUAR. An agency press release noted that the U.S. government has issued other warnings regarding the use of forced labor in the XUAR, including a July 2020 joint federal advisory. CBP has also issued a number of other WROs over the past year targeting products allegedly made with forced labor.

However, importers of detained shipments will have an opportunity to export their shipments or submit proof to CBP that they were not produced with forced labor or are not covered by this WRO.

CBP emphasized that importers are responsible for ensuring the products they are attempting to import do not exploit forced labor at any point in their supply chains, including the production or harvesting of the raw material. 

ST&R can assist importers facing this and other detentions. For more information please contact Kristine PirniaElise Shibles, or Nicole Bivens Collinson.

Click here to register for ST&R’s Jan. 14 webinar on forced labor issues.

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