By Robert Kim
May 19, 2022
On May 11, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that it will be giving importers notice of known past imports of goods made with Uyghur forced labor, in advance of the June 21 effective date of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA, or “the Act”).
The UFLPA, passed with bipartisan support by Congress and signed into law by President Biden on December 23, 2021, is intended to ensure that goods made with forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China do not enter the United States. The Act establishes a rebuttable presumption that the importation of any products mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is prohibited by Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930. The presumption also applies to products produced by any organization that appears on the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security’s “Entity List.”
CBP announced on its UFLPA webpage that it “will be issuing letters to importers identified as having previously imported merchandise that may be subject to the Act to encourage those importers to address any forced labor issues in their supply chains in a timely manner.” These letters will provide advanced notice that the CBP is aware of an importer’s past acts to import products that the UFLPA will prohibit starting on June 21, and that the importer should stop the importation of such products.
Disclaiming any perception that the existence of these letters may relieve importers of their obligations to exercise due diligence of forced labor in supply chains, the CBP stated further, “Please note that if you do not receive a letter from CBP, this does not mean that your supply chain is free of forced labor. All importers are expected to review their supply chains thoroughly and institute reliable measures to ensure imported goods are not produced wholly or in part with convict labor, force labor, and/or indentured labor (including forced or indentured child labor).”
Why This Matters: The UFLPA’s prohibition against importing goods produced using forced labor goes into effect on June 21. A letter from the CBP stating that an importer is known to have imported such goods will convey requirements that the importer act to remove goods prohibited by the UFLPA from its supply chains prior to the implementation date. All importers, whether or not they receive a letter from the CBP, must continue to review their supply chains and act to ensure that they do not import goods produced with forced labor into the United States.