Late last month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detained materials due to the manufacturer’s alleged use of forced prison labor. The March 30 seizure of goods from

Chinese chemical producer Tangshan Sanyou Group Co. Ltd. was ordered by CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. Commissioner Kerlikowske’s detainment notice focused on textile manufacturing materials containing soda ash and viscose rayon from Tangshan Sanyou, a second-tier supplier for a number of U.S. clothing importers.

The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 bans the importation of products made, wholly or in part, with convict labor or forced labor and indentured labor under penal sanctions. The Act gives the CBP the authority to hold merchandise that fall under its provisions. Should it be proved Tangshan Sanyou used forced prison labor, the companies offering goods from the U.S. importers supplied by Tangshan Sanyou will be publicized.

Prior to the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, the CBP did not enforce restrictions regarding forced labor importers, relying on the Tariff Act’s consumptive demand exemption. The Tariff Act, which was signed into law in 1930, limited the enforcement of products produced by forced labor to those produced in the U.S. The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act removed the loophole.

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