On January 13, 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) for cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang, an autonomous territory in northwest China. This is the fourth WRO that CBP has issued since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2021, and the second on products originating in Xinjiang. Eight of the 13 WRO that CBP issued in Fiscal Year 2020 were on goods made by forced labor in China.

Notably, while previous actions have targeted specific items and firms originating from and having a presence in Xinjiang, this is the first WRO to target entire product types. Compliance concerns raised by the apparel industry have been met with guidance from CBP.

 The Agency’s Press Release included 6 out of the 11 possible forced labor indicators:

  • Debt bondage
  • Restriction of movement
  • Isolation
  • Intimidation and threats
  • Withholding of wages
  • Abusive living and working conditions

Additional forced labor indicators include: Abuse of vulnerability, deception, physical and sexual violence, intimidation and threats, and excessive overtime.

WROs are issued by the U.S. government when information reasonably but not conclusively indicates goods were made in whole or in part using Forced Labor. Merchandise detained under a WRO order must be exported immediately or a substantial submission made that provides specific information showing that the goods were not made with forced labor. To obtain a release of any shipment that has been subjected to a WRO, a certificate of origin along with this detailed statement regarding the merchandise’s production and supply chain origin must be submitted to CBP. CBP makes a determination on a case-by-case basis.

The Press Release is available here

The order is the latest U.S. action addressing rising global concerns over reports of forced labor in Xinjiang. For more information on actions addressing human rights and forced labor abuses, please see our January 12 post or contact John Brew, Jeffrey Snyder, Frances Hadfield, or Clayton Kaier.

 

 

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Photo of John Brew John Brew

John Brew is the co-chair of Crowell & Moring’s International Trade Group and a partner in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. He has extensive experience in import and export trade regulation, and he regularly advises corporations, trade associations, foreign governments, and non-governmental organizations…

John Brew is the co-chair of Crowell & Moring’s International Trade Group and a partner in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. He has extensive experience in import and export trade regulation, and he regularly advises corporations, trade associations, foreign governments, and non-governmental organizations on matters involving customs administration, enforcement, compliance, litigation, legislation and policy.

John represents clients in proceedings at the administrative and judicial levels, as well as before Congress and the international bureaucracies that handle customs and trade matters. He advises clients on all substantive import regulatory issues handled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, such as classification, valuation, origin, marking, tariff preference programs, other agency regulations, admissibility, import restrictions, quotas, drawback, audits, prior disclosures, penalties, investigations, Importer Self Assessment and Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism programs, importations under bond, the Jones Act, vessel repairs, and foreign trade zone matters.

Photo of Frances P. Hadfield Frances P. Hadfield

Frances P. Hadfield is a counsel in Crowell & Moring’s International Trade Group in the firm’s New York office. Her practice focuses on forced labor and withhold release orders (WRO), import regulatory compliance, and customs litigation. She regularly advises corporations on matters involving…

Frances P. Hadfield is a counsel in Crowell & Moring’s International Trade Group in the firm’s New York office. Her practice focuses on forced labor and withhold release orders (WRO), import regulatory compliance, and customs litigation. She regularly advises corporations on matters involving customs compliance, audits, customs enforcement, as well as import penalties.

Frances represents clients before the U.S. Court of International Trade and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, as well as in proceedings at the administrative level. She advises corporations on both substantive federal and state regulatory issues that involve U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife in matters pertaining to product admissibility, audits, classification, import restrictions, investigations, marking, licenses, origin, penalties, and tariff preference programs.