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15 Mar 2023

CNA (Singapore)

US releases a third of electronics detained under China forced labour law, data shows

US customs officials have released more than a third of the electronic equipment, including solar panels, detained since last year under a new law meant to weed out products made with forced labour, according to data released on Tuesday (Mar 14).

The release of the new data dashboard by US Customs and Border Protection comes a week after Reuters reported that US imports of solar panels are finally picking up after months of gridlock stemming from implementation of the Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act.

The stalled imports from major Chinese panel suppliers including Trina Solar Co Ltd and Jinko Solar Holding Co Ltd caused major delays in US solar project development at a time when the sector is booming - a setback to the Biden administration's climate goals.

According to the data, CBP has released 552 electronics shipments worth US$345 million out of a total of 1,627 industry shipments valued at US$841 million that were held for examination.

While it was unknown what percentage of those shipments are solar equipment, Reuters reported last year that as of late October, CBP had detained more than 1,000 shipments of solar energy equipment.

The law requires producers to show sourcing documentation of imported equipment back to the raw material to prove that no portion came from Xinjiang.

The electronics sector accounts for 88 per cent of the US$961 million in total shipments that have been detained under the UFLPLA since June of last year. Just 17 electronics shipments, worth US$7 million, have been denied entry into the US market.

Most of the electronic shipments that were subjected to reviews were imported from Malaysia and Vietnam, with far smaller amounts from Thailand and China, according to CBP.

The data also shows detainments peaked in the federal government's fiscal fourth quarter that ended in September and have steadily declined since then.