The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is issuing a new regional withhold release order (WRO) on all cotton and tomato products grown and produced by entities operating in China’s Xinjiang province. The WRO will take effect Jan. 13 and also applies to goods made in third countries from inputs produced in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

This order follows an investigation that conducted by CBP that has found forced labor in supply chains for textiles and apparel, tomato seeds, canned tomatoes, and tomato sauce in China’s Xinjiang province. The CBP has identified the presence of at least six labor violations used against Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. These forced labor indicators included: debt bondage, restriction of movement, isolation, intimidation, and threats, withholding of wages, and abusive living and working conditions.

In early December, CBP issued a company specific WRO that only covered the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. However, this WRO targets the entire Western China state.

In the past year, the U.S. has imported roughly $9 billion worth of cotton products, and $10 billion worth of tomato products. CPB personnel at all U.S. ports are directed to detain cotton and tomato products grown or produced by entities operating in Xinjiang. Importers are also responsible for ensuring that the products they are importing do not use forced labor.

“CBP will not tolerate the Chinese government’s exploitation of modern slavery to import goods into the United States below fair market value,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Mark A. Morgan. “Imports made on the cheap by using forced labor hurt American businesses that respect human rights and also expose unsuspecting consumers to unethical purchases.”

For further questions, please contact your Mohawk Global representative.

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