On January 28 , 2021, Senators Rubio and Merkley re-introduced the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (see press and bill) with 27 additional co-sponsors. The bill includes important changes from the last Congress that addresses some of the concerns from the business community, including:
- The effective import ban on goods originating from Xinjiang goes into effect 300 days after the bill becomes law (vs. 120 days in the legislation from last year)
- Requires the administration to issue guidance to importers on best practices/due diligence and on the of type of evidence to demonstrate that goods are not made with forced labor
- Sets out a clearer process by which CBP may issue exemptions to the import ban
- Requires the administration to develop a comprehensive enforcement strategy (with public comment) and a diplomatic strategy
- Does not include the SEC disclosure requirements in last year’s bill
Also a multi-association letter was sent, which asked for an approach similar to some of the changes outlined above. The timing for this legislation remains unclear, but the basic expectation is that this could potentially move quickly in the coming months. Some House Democrats are expected to oppose some of the amendments, so it remains unclear if that might complicate passage.
Regardless, of the outcome of this legislation, we don’t expect this will affect the existing withhold release order (WRO) that CBP has issued for cotton products from Xinjiang, and it is likely the Biden team will look to impose additional WROs on Xinjiang or entities elsewhere.