Background

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced this week its seizure of a shipment of nitrile disposable gloves from Malaysia suspected of being made with forced labor. This announcement confirms that a recent seizure authorization is broader than the original withhold release order and that CBP is in fact acting under that authorization.

In March CBP authorized port directors to seize, and commence forfeiture proceedings against, certain disposable gloves mined, produced, or manufactured in Malaysia by Top Glove Corporation Bhd with the use of convict, forced, or indentured labor. This authorization was based on CBP’s determination that there is sufficient evidence to support the finding that Top Glove is manufacturing disposable gloves with forced labor and that such goods are likely being imported into the U.S. CBP had first issued a withhold release order against these goods in July 2020, but that WRO was limited to two of Top Glove’s subsidiaries.

CBP said its finding covers disposable gloves mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part by Top Glove. However, CBP noted this week that the shipment was seized after an inspection revealed that the gloves were produced by a Top Glove subsidiary not named in the WRO, indicating that seizures may affect shipments from any of the company’s subsidiaries. The announcement also confirms that CBP is seizing covered goods, contrary to some reports that they were being cleared for entry.

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. CBP states that it will seize shipments subject to findings unless the importer can prove to CBP’s satisfaction that, per 19 CFR 12.43, the goods were not produced with forced labor.

Companies in all industries are being encouraged to conduct reviews of their supply chains as international scrutiny of the use of forced labor intensifies. Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg offers a comprehensive suite of services to help companies address forced labor concerns, including supply chain reviews, due diligence strategies, and proactive remediation. For more information, please contact Amanda Levitt (at (212) 549-0148) or via email), David Olave (at (202) 730-4960 or via email), or Nicole Bivens Collinson (at (202) 730-4956 or via email).

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