As U.S. Customs and Border Protection continues to field calls to improve its enforcement of laws against imports made with forced labor, officials say the agency expects to take some steps in that direction in the coming year.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act establishes a rebuttable presumption that goods made wholly or in part in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are made with forced labor and are therefore excluded from entry into the U.S. June 21 marked one year since CBP began implementing that provision, and the agency recently said that since that date it has stopped nearly 4,300 shipments valued at more than $1.3 billion. According to a CBP press release, these enforcement actions have resulted in “an observable shift in supply chain practices to avoid sourcing” from the XUAR.
Moving into the second year of UFLPA enforcement, CBP said the interagency Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force will continue to revise the UFLPA Entity List, which is a consolidated register of the four lists required to be developed and maintained under that law.
- entities in the XUAR that mine, produce, or manufacture wholly or in part any goods, wares, articles, and merchandise with forced labor
- entities working with the XUAR government to recruit, transport, transfer, harbor, or receive forced labor or Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, or members of other persecuted groups out of the XUAR
- entities that exported products made by any of the above entities from China into the U.S.
- facilities and entities, including the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, that source material from the XUAR or from persons working with the XUAR government or the XPCC for purposes of the “poverty alleviation” program or the “pairing-assistance” program or any other government-labor scheme that uses forced labor
CBP applies the UFLPA’s rebuttable presumption to goods mined, produced, or manufactured by entities on the UFLPA Entity List, which are thus prohibited from importation into the U.S. under 19 USC 1307.
CBP said that going forward it will support efforts by the Department of Homeland Security and the FLETF to expand this list “by pursuing a more robust and effective in-depth research, analysis, review, and vetting of potential entities.” There has been criticism from some corners about the slow pace of new additions to this list, particularly in light of substantial research that has identified a number of potentially problematic entities.
Executive Assistant Commissioner AnnMarie Highsmith indicated that CBP will further broaden its efforts on forced labor as well. “While we’re proud of the work we’ve done this past year, there is still a lot left to do,” she said. “Our laws aren’t in place just to keep these goods out of the U.S. They exist to ensure that no good is ever made with forced labor in the first place. We have a long way to go to reach that reality, and you can bet that this will be a top priority for CBP until we do.”
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg has a robust program to assist companies on forced labor issues. ST&R also maintains a frequently updated web page offering a broad range of information on forced labor-related efforts in the U.S. and around the world. For more information, please contact ST&R at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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