United States Ban on Imports related to the use of Forced Labor
Effective March 10, 2016, The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, will prohibit the import into the United States of goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured in a foreign country by convict, forced, or indentured labor. The new prohibition does not target specific countries or products, but rather permits U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to investigate allegations that a specific product was made using forced labor.
Here are some key points of which you should be aware:
· Effective March 10, 2016, the United States will prohibit the import of products made in whole or in part by convict, forced, or indentured labor. This new law closes a loophole, which had previously allowed the import of products made with forced labor if the “consumptive demand” for those goods in the United States exceeded domestic production.
· The new prohibition DOES NOT target any specific countries or products, and DOES NOT immediately ban the import of any products.
· Moving forward, CBP will investigate allegations that a specific imported product was made using forced labor.
· These investigations may be initiated by CBP or in response to petitions submitted by the public (such as by human rights groups). Petitioners must prove that forced labor is taking place on a particular factory or farm and trace the tainted product to a particular shipment entering a U.S. port.
· Following an investigation, any products found to be made in whole or in part using forced labor will be subject to exclusion and/or seizure, and may lead to investigation of the importer(s).
· CBP and public interest groups are likely to look for “leads” in the U.S. Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor and List of Products Identified by Executive Order 13126. These lists DO NOT ban the import of any of these products into the United States. Rather, they identify categories of products by country that the United States has reason to believe are at risk of having been produced by child or forced labor.
· This development will place additional pressure on importers to develop compliance systems for their supply chains, including identification of items potentially made with forced labor.