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en/us-blocks-import-of-goods-suspected-to-have-been-produced-with-forced-labour#c196539

US government blocks shipments from companies alleged of using forced labour in China, Malaysia, Brazil, Zimbabwe and Congo

Author: Martha Mendoza, Associated Press, Published on: 10 October 2019

“Company making Costco pajamas flagged for forced labor”, 8 Oct 2019

The Trump Administration is blocking shipments from a Chinese company making baby pajamas sold at Costco warehouses, after the foreign manufacturer was accused of forcing ethnic minorities locked in an internment camp to sew clothes against their will.

The government is also blocking rubber gloves sold by industry leader Ansell… accusing a Malaysian manufacturer of staffing its factories with migrants from Bangladesh, Nepal and other countries who went into crushing debt from paying exorbitant recruitment fees. Imports of bone charcoal from Brazil that firms like Plymouth Technology and ResinTech Inc. used to remove contaminants in U.S. water systems, diamonds from Zimbabwe and gold from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo were stopped as well…

… The Associated Press tracked items to several buyers, including Costco and the U.S. subsidiary of Ansell, an Australian protective gloves manufacturer. The companies said they were not aware that their products were being made with forced labor…

One major case… involves China’s Hetian Taida Apparel, which AP reported… was forcing Uigher Muslims and other ethnic minorities to sew clothes for U.S. importers inside a Chinese re-education camp.

… Costco Wholesale Corp. began importing baby pajamas made by the company…

In an interview with the AP, Costco officials said “we believe (the baby sleepers) were made in a factory other than the one that was the subject of the CBP detention order. As the facts develop, we’re prepared to consider what action we should take relative to the issue of a supplier to our supplier owning factories that may have problems.”…

Reached by phone… Hetian Taida Chairman Wu Hongbo told the AP that the company will cooperate with U.S. Customs and provide the agency with any documents it needs. Wu declined to answer further questions and said he has chosen to reject all media interview requests…

Workers at WRP and many other rubber glove factories have been forced to pay staggering fees as high as $5,000 in their home countries, including Bangladesh and Nepal, for jobs that don’t meet their promise, said activist Andy Hall, who has advocated on behalf of Southeast Asian migrant laborers. Some of the rubber glove makers don’t pay workers for months, house them in unkempt and overcrowded conditions, hold their passports so they can’t leave and don’t allow them to quit, he said…

WRP importers include… Ansell, as well as… Bay Medical Company Inc…

In a statement, Ansell said it was ending its business with WRP: “Ansell takes the labor practices of these third-party suppliers seriously, and any allegations of forced labor among the company’s suppliers are of the highest concern. ”

Bay Medical’s owner David Dorris was visiting WRP…“We were completely blindsided,” he said. “It’s deeply disturbing for me personally and for our company.” Dorris said he hopes the accusations are not true.

Bone charcoal manufacturer, Bonechar Carvão Ativado Ltd… said accusations leading to its CBP detention order came from a competitor’s unfounded smear campaign…

Bonechar Carvão owner Francisco Meira said their workers are not abused, and that U.S. Customs blocked the shipment based on false allegations that have been investigated and dismissed by Brazilian authorities…

A handful of U.S. companies imported bone charcoal from the Brazilian company… These included Plymouth Technology in Rochester Hills, Michigan, Ebonex Corporation near Detroit, ResinTech Inc. in West Berlin, New Jersey and American Charcoal Co. in Jackson, Wyoming.

AP reached out to all the firms for comment. Ebonex Corporation, the only company that responded to AP’s queries, said they were aware of the trade dispute, and that they didn’t believe Bonechar abused workers and wouldn’t import from them if they do. The other companies could not be reached for comment.

The CBP action also covers any gold mined at small artisanal mines in eastern Congo and all rough diamonds from the Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe…

Zimbabwe’s government, which insists it has cleaned up its diamond industry, called the U.S. decision “a blatant and shameless lie.”

… The Congolese Embassy in Washington D.C. did not respond to calls from the AP…

[Also referred to Badger Sportswear]

Read the full post here

Related companies: Ansell Badger Sport Costco WRP