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Esquel Group denies allegations of using forced labour in Xinjiang and appeals against US sanction

“Esquel Group, garment supplier to Tommy Hilfiger and Nike, says it’s seeking to overturn US sanction on its Xinjiang plant”, 21 July 2020

Esquel Group, one of the world’s largest garment producers and supplier for such brands as Tommy Hilfiger, Patagonia and Nike, said it has written to the US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to appeal against the decision by his office to put it on a sanctions list for hiring forced labour in Xinjiang.

“Let me be clear: Esquel does not use forced labour, and we never will use forced labour. We absolutely and categorically oppose forced labour. It is abhorrent and completely antithetical to Esquel’s principles and business practices,” Cheh [vice-chairman] said in his letter to Ross…

There is no evidence “to support the allegations” of forced labour, Chen said. Instead, “there is ample evidence that we do not use forced labour and in fact treat our Uygur employees…

The April 2017 Uygur Human Rights Project Report recognised Esquel as “perhaps the only overseas company that has attested to follow through to corporate pledges to hire Uygurs,” Cheh said…

Esquel has three spinning mills in Xinjiang… It also has two cotton ginning mills built in 2003…

The company would keep the mills running, Cheh said in an interview with the Post. No agency of any government nor any non-governmental organisation has presented such evidence to the allegation and no one from the Commerce Department spoke with anyone at Esquel about the allegations of using forced labour, Cheh said.

An independent audit of three spinning mills in Xinjiang, including Changji, by a leading global audit firm, ELEVATE, commissioned by one of its US customers, was carried out in May 2019, Esquel said.

“ELEVATE rated all three spinning mills with scores of 85 or above and confirmed that there was no forced labour of any kind,” Cheh said…

Part of the following stories

China: 83 major brands implicated in report on forced labour of ethnic minorities from Xinjiang assigned to factories across provinces; Includes company responses

China: USA adds Chinese firms and entities to sanction lists over human rights abuses

China: Civil society organisations call on apparel brands & retailers to cut ties with suppliers allegedly using forced labour of ethnic minorities