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17 Jul 2020

Liz Lee, Reuters

USA: Customs and Border Protection bars imports from Malaysian manufacturer Top Glove over forced labour issues

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“Amid virus crisis, U.S. bars imports of Malaysia’s Top Glove over labour issues”, 16 July 2020

The bar on Top Glove products comes at a time when demand for medical gloves and protective gear has skyrocketed …

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website showed Top Glove Sdn Bhd and TG Medical Sdn Bhd were placed on its list … Its “withhold release orders” … are specific to forced labour issues.

… CBP said … it had found evidence of forced labour practices, including debt bondage among other practices in Top Glove’s units.

“This WRO sends a clear and direct message to U.S. importers that the illicit, inhumane and exploitative practices of modern day slavery will not be tolerated in U.S. supply chains.”

… Top Glove bosses told reporters and analysts that … other subsidiaries could still sell to the United States and that other countries would easily absorb any returned shipments.

Top Glove said it had been bearing all recruitment fees since the start of last year, but still had to resolve an issue regarding retrospective payment of recruitment fees paid, without its knowledge…

Top Glove’s share price slipped 2.57% before it temporarily halted trading, a minor blip after a rise of over 350% this year.

Independent migrant worker rights specialist Andy Hall said … forced foreign labour in Malaysia’s gloves industry could only be addressed and reduced when past recruitment fees and related costs, which hold such workers in debt bondage, are fully repaid.

Part of the following timelines

Malaysia: Medical glove manufacturers see surge in orders due to COVID-19, amid forced labour concerns

Malaysia: Top Glove denies migrant workers producing PPE are exposed to abusive labour practices & COVID-19 risk; Incl. responses from auditing firms