U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has established a webpage on Force Labor as part of its outreach efforts. Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. § 1307) prohibits the importation of merchandise mined, produced or manufactured, wholly or in part, in any foreign country by forced labor – including forced child labor. Such merchandise is subject to exclusion and/or seizure, and may lead to criminal investigation of the importer(s). The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 was signed by the President on February 24, 2016. The law repealed the “consumptive demand” clause in 19 U.S.C. § 1307. The clause had allowed importation of certain forced labor-produced goods if the goods were not produced “in such quantities in the United States as to meet the consumptive demands of the United States.” Repeal of the consumptive demand exception should enhance CBP’s ability to prevent products made with forced labor from being imported into the United States.
When information reasonably but not conclusively indicates that merchandise within the purview of this provision is being imported, the Commissioner of CBP may issue withhold release orders pursuant to 19 C.F.R. § 12.42(e). If the Commissioner is provided with information sufficient to make a determination that the goods in question are subject to the provisions of 19 U.S.C. § 1307, the Commissioner will publish a formal finding to that effect in the Customs Bulletin and in the Federal Register pursuant to 19 C.F.R. § 12.42(f).
The new page advises the public on how to file complaints and provides links to resources, including several Fact Sheets on CBP enforcement of the Forced Labor prohibition as well as points of contact. In addition, it lists all withhold release orders issued by the Commissioner and findings published in the Federal Register and the current status, including the latest one added on September 19, 2016. CBP does not generally publicize specific detentions, re-exportations, exclusions, or seizures of the subject merchandise that may have resulted from the withhold release orders or findings.