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Trade Alert: New Law Enhances Restrictions on Goods Made From Forced Labor in China

Imports from Xinjiang, China, presumed to be forced labor goods

On Dec. 23, 2021, President Biden signed into law legislation that will place additional restrictions on imports of goods made with forced labor from the Xinjian region in China.

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act establishes a “rebuttable presumption” that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will consider all goods manufactured in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China to be made from forced labor and therefore prohibited from entry into the U.S. While CBP has largely focused on preventing imports of cotton, polysilicon, tomatoes, and other select products from the XUAR, this legislation will broaden that focus to any item. This rebuttable presumption will go into effect on June 21, 2022.

The legislation also requires the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force to initiate a 45-day public comment period soliciting information on how best to ensure goods made with forced labor in China are not imported into the U.S. Within 45 days of the public comment period closing, the task force is required to hold a public hearing on the same topic.

Additionally, by June 21, 2022, the task force must publish a public report detailing a forced labor enforcement strategy. This strategy must include the following:

  • A list of entities using forced labor in the XUAR or connected to the recruitment of transfer of Uyghurs and other minorities, and a list of items produced by those entities.
  • A list of entities exporting those products to the U.S., and a list of entities sourcing from the XUAR or connected to persons working for the XUAR or XPCC to facilitate forced labor programs.
  • Specific enforcement strategies developed for cotton, tomatoes, and solar panels, as those are identified as high-priority sectors.
  • Recommendations for tools and technologies to be adopted to ensure that CBP can accurately identify and trace goods made in the XUAR attempting to be imported into the U.S.
  • A description of how CPB plans to enhance its efforts to ensure that no goods are entered into the U.S., including through the initiation of pilot programs to test the viability of technologies to assist in the examination of such goods.

The report is not due for submission until the same day the rebuttable presumption goes into effect. As a result, OIA members may want to prepare by reviewing the information and guidance provided in the Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory published last year. Additionally, the CBP Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region WRO Frequently Asked Questions webpage provides information about the extent and kinds of evidence it currently expects from importers to demonstrate proof of admissibility if their goods are detained.

OIA will alert its members when the task force determines the date for the opening of the public comment period and when it issues its final report. Please contact me with any questions.

Please do not hesitate to reach out directly to OIA Director of Government Affairs Rich Harper for more information.