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26 Feb 2016

Guardian (UK) with Associated Press

US Govt. prepares to enforce law restricting import of goods made with forced & child labour

"Obama revives anti-slavery law to target Thailand's seafood exports"

Federal officials are preparing to enforce an 86-year-old ban on importing goods made by children or slaves [including potentially seafood produced by slaves in Thailandunder new provisions of a law signed by the president.

The Tariff Act of 1930, which gave...[the US government] the authority to seize shipments where forced labour was suspected and block further imports, was last used in 2000, and has been used only 39 times in all, largely because of two words: “consumptive demand” – if there was not sufficient supply to meet domestic demand, imports were allowed regardless of how they were produced.

The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act signed by Obama on Wednesday eliminated that language, allowing stiffer enforcement. Fish and shrimp from Thailand, peanuts from Turkey, gold from Ghana and carpets from India are featured on a US Labor Department list of more than 350 goods produced by child labour or forced labour...

To start an investigation, customs needs to receive a petition from anyone...showing “reasonably but not conclusively” that imports were made at least in part with forced labour. Neha Misra of the Solidarity Center...said petitions remained hard to file and proving a case was complicated but she was still encouraged...

Gavin Gibbons, a spokesman for National Fisheries Institute, which represents about 75 percent of the U.S. seafood industry, said Thursday their members want to see the ban enforced.