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2015-Trade Facilitation & Trade Enforcement Act reduced number of Chinese prison labour-derived goods entering the US, report finds

Author: Alexander Bowe, U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, Published on: 14 August 2017

“U.S. Exposure to Forced Labor Exports from China: Developments since the U.S. Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015,” 8 Aug 2017

China maintains a network of prison labor facilities that use forced labor to produce goods intended for exports – a violation of U.S.-China trade agreements and U.S. law. U.S. officials continue to face considerable difficulty in combating exports of these forced labor products, since cooperation from Chinese interlocutors has remained at low levels for years. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have not been permitted to make site inspections in China since 2009… The status of the planned abolition of the Chinese “re-education through labor” (RTL) system is uncertain. Some reports indicate forced labor continues to occur at these sites but under a different penal framework.

The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA) of 2015 has strengthened U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) ability to prevent Chinese prison labor-derived products from entering U.S. markets primarily through the elimination of the “consumptive demand” exemption [which constituted a ban on imports of prison labor products only if the consumptive demand for those products exceeded the domestic industrial capacity of the U.S.]. [As now consumptive demand no longer requires consideration] the process for issuance of a withhold release order (WRO) for products deemed to have been made with forced labor [has been speeded up]. Since the TFTEA entered into force, four WROs have been issued against Chinese companies. These WROs were the first to be issued against Chinese companies since 1996, and two of the companies in question appear to have since closed…

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