Forced labor an increasing concern as CBP steps up Withhold Release Orders

The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act signed into law in 2015 brought increased enforcement tools for Customs and Border Protection across a range of issues. One that has increased in prominence since that time is what the agency can do to take steps against products being imported that were made with forced labor.

CBP has a robust section on their website about forced labor and the increasing scrutiny of China’s actions in the Xinjiang region have made more and more companies pay greater and greater attention.

The tool being most frequently deployed by the agency has been their increased use of Withhold Release Orders. These orders allow for immediate detention upon arrival in the United States of products of a particular company or, in the case of Xinjiang, an entire region.

The issue of forced labor is not just limited to United States importers. According to law firm ST&R, “The United Nations Human Rights Council recently sent letters to a range of international companies about the potential use of forced labor in China. These companies, which include ‘well-known global brands,’ are located in the U.S., China, Canada, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Finland, and Denmark.”

Argents’ customs brokers focus their attention on not just classification of merchandise, but potential trade remedy actions that are taken in particular countries or against certain commodities. We work with our clients before their first importation and continue to monitor ongoing changes that could impact both the dutiability and the ability to import items or products altogether. If you have a concern about the sourcing and admissibility of a product before entry or want us to proactively monitor for changes on your behalf, contact your Argents representative today.

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