Force labor issues among importers are not going away. The CBP announced at the end of September that they will be expanding to include two investigative branches, one of which will specifically focus on forced labor operations.
Their aim is to diversify the geographic locations of the investigations, to include more than just Asia. Asia will remain a primary concern, while additional resources and manpower clear up room for CBP officials to also investigate Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa.
It is more important than ever for you to know your supply chain intimately. This includes the mining, production, and manufacturing of goods entering the United States.
The CBP released seven WRO’s so far in 2021. That might not sound like much, but for anyone impacted by the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region WRO, those seven had a significant impact. In the past year, 696 shipments were detained.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), forced labor can include:
- Abuse of vulnerability
- Restriction of movement
- Retention of identity documents
- Physical and sexual violence
- Withholding of wages
- Debt bondage
- Abusive working and living conditions
- Excessive overtime
- Intimidation and threats
To avoid delays due to forced labor investigations, see our article on the documentation you may need.
Most importantly, keep your Copper Hill representative updated on any supply chain changes or questions.
As we have seen from previous legislation, the U.S. government is taking a strong stand against forced labor practices. Recently, that has impacted imports coming from the Xinjiang province in China, where the Uyghurs (an ethnic minority) have been detained. Rumors of forced labor have led to restrictions on imports from that area. This includes gloves, hair products, textiles, thread and yarn, tomatoes, and some solar products.
If you import one of these goods from the Xinjiang province in China, your imports may be at risk.
The Uyghurs are an ethnic minority in the Xinjiang province in China who are primarily Muslim. They have been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) with the U.S. going as far as using the word “genocide”.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimated that at least 100,000 Uyghurs are being forced into production lines. This led Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Je Merkley (D-Ore.) to sponsor The Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act, which passed the Senate on July 14, 2021.
This legislation stated that all imports from Xinjiang are assumed to be made by forced labor unless there is sufficient evidence otherwise. This places a huge burden on importers to demonstrate that their supply chains are free of forced labor practices. At least three major companies have been pressing Congress to amend the act.
What This Means for Your Imports
If any of your goods come fully or in part from the Xinjiang province in China, there will be delays in your supply chain potentially starting in November 2021. After that time, you will need documented support that the goods were not made by forced labor. Goods will be automatically denied entry into the United States if they were “mined, produced, or manufactured” in Xinjiang. Exceptions can be granted by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Sufficient evidence that your imports meet this exception must include at least the following:
- A comprehensive supply chain pro le. Documentation must include the full supply chain from raw materials to any subcontractors to the final assembly; a risk assessment of forced labor including site visits; and industry-specific stakeholder initiatives.
- A written code of conduct. A formal written code of conduct must include all international interactions; be shared with all suppliers and with each purchase order, contract, or letter of credit; and establish minimum labor standards as specified by the United Nations International Labor Organization (ILO) and other relevant stakeholders in your industry.
- A robust internal control process. Internal controls must meet recognized audit standards; deter and detect violations of the code of conduct and best practices; include regular compliance audits, including internal and external personnel; cover the full supply chain; and have corrective actions for violations.
This documentation will be reviewed by the CBP and then they will make a determination and public report.
Contact your Copper Hill representative today to ensure you have this documentation ready for November.