WASHINGTON — US Customs and Border Protection is blocking imports of certain garments from China because of claims the goods were produced with forced labour. The garments were produced by Hetian Taida Apparel, a privately held company which is said to have used workers from an internment camp holding targeted members of ethnic minority groups. Hetian hit the news earlier this year when shipments from its factory were tracked to Badger Sportswear, a leading supplier from North Carolina. Badger has since severed ties with Hetian, however, the fact that its products are still turning up at US customs suggests another retailer continues to do business with it.
US border controls has issued five Withhold Release Orders (WROs) in all covering five different products – just one being garments – imported from five different countries.
Under US law, it is illegal to import goods into the US that are made wholly or in part by forced labour, which includes convict labour, indentured labour, and forced or indentured child labour. When sufficient information is available, CBP may detain goods believed to have been produced with forced labour by issuing a WRO. Importers have the opportunity to either re-export the detained shipments at any time or to submit information to CBP demonstrating that the goods are not in violation
The Forced Labor Division within CBP’s Office of Trade leads agency enforcement efforts prohibiting the importation of goods made using forced labour. CBP receives allegations of forced labour from a variety of sources, including from the general public.
“CBP is firmly committed to identifying and preventing products made with the use of forced labour from entering the stream of U.S. Commerce,” said Brenda Smith, executive assistant commissioner, CBP Office of Trade. “The effort put into investigating these producers highlights CBP’s priority attention on this issue. Our agency works tirelessly behind the scenes to investigate and gather information on forced labour in global supply chains.”