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US Customs & Border enforcement agency blocks goods from entering US under suspicion they were made with forced labour

Author: Meghan Hampsey, Human Rights First, Published on: 21 April 2016

The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) recently issued two “withhold release” orders, blocking goods from entering the country under suspicion that they were made with forced labor. These are the first such orders since the passage of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (H.R. 644), which President Obama signed in February of this year. Section 910 of the act prohibits the importation of goods made with forced labor into the United States, closing a loophole in the Tariff Act of 1930 that allowed importing such goods if the product was not made in high enough quantities domestically to meet the U.S. demand. According to David Salkled of Arent Fox LLP, these are the first withhold release orders made in regards to forced labor in over a decade. The first order came on March 29th against imported soda ash, calcium chloride, caustic soda, and viscose/rayon fiber that was manufactured or mined by Chinese company Tangshan Sunfar Silicon Company. CBP believes that these products were made by forced convict labor. The second order, on April 13th, was against imported potassium, potassium hydroxide, and potassium nitrate that is believed to be mined and manufactured by the same company using convict labor.

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