The Tariff Act of 1930 prohibits the importation of goods manufactured with the use of forced labor. This includes prison labor, forced labor, and indentured child labor. Prior to the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (TFTEA), the Tariff Act included a clause that allowed for the importation of goods produced with forced labor if there was a “consumptive demand” and the goods were not produced within the United States. However, the TFTEA removed this language from the Tariff Act, strengthening the ability of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to enforce the forced labor provisions.
Forced labor is still used in certain parts of the world. Human rights organizations have made this clear, and Congress has mandated CBP to stop importations of goods from offending countries and/or manufacturers. CBP enforces this by issuing Withhold Release Orders (WRO’s) that instruct personnel at all U.S. ports of entry to detain shipments that contain goods suspected of being made by forced labor.
“Forced labor is a human rights abuse that hurts vulnerable workers, weakens the global economy, and exposes consumers to unethically made merchandise,” said Troy Miller, CBP Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner. “CBP will continue to set a high global standard by aggressively investigating allegations of forced labor in U.S. supply chains and keeping tainted merchandise out of the United States.”
Customs has posted a list of potentially violative products and manufacturers on their website. Importers are encouraged to review this list to ensure that the merchandise they are importing is not potentially subject to a WRO.
Importers must know their supply chain and have strong business practices to ensure their products are not subject to a WRO before being shipped to the United States. CBP continues to regularly add products to their list, resulting in an otherwise legitimate importer finding themselves with a shipment en route that is subject to a WRO. In this case, the goods may be exported from the United States. If an importer feels that their goods are not subject to the conditions of the WRO, they may attempt to prove to CBP through the submission of supporting documents.
CBP’s forced labor investigations have produced six WRO’s in Fiscal Year 2021. Here are some recent articles that have been subject to WRO’s:
|Silica-Based Products||China||Hoshine Silicon Industry Co., Ltd (and subsidiaries)|
|Cotton & Downstream Pdts||China||Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XAUR)|
|Palm Oil & Products||Malaysia||Various|
Don’t hesitate to contact Deringer’s Trade Advisory Group if you have questions about WRO’s, the implications for your supply chain, or how to demonstrate proof of admissibility to CBP.