The U.S. Department of Labor is seeking comments on its proposed guidelines for developing and maintaining a list of goods produced in countries using child or forced labor. These guidelines stem from the Traffi cking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 (“TVPRA”), that directed the Secretary of Labor, acting through the Bureau of International Labor Affairs (“ILAB”), to “carry out additional activities to monitor and combat forced labor and child labor in foreign countries.” The U.S. Department of Labor’s initiative could prevent a larger number of goods from entering the U.S. in the future.

The first steps in this initiative included monitoring forced and child labor activities in violation of international standards, and providing the information to the U.S. Department of State for inclusion in its Traffi cking In Persons Report. The Department of Labor now aims to create a list of goods, by country, believed to be produced1 by forced or child labor in violation of international standards.

Once the list is created, the government will work with those involved in producing merchandise on the list to create a standard set of practices that would reduce the likelihood that such merchandise is produced with child or forced labor in the future. The fi nal step will be to work with the other U.S. government agencies, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection, to ensure that products made with child or forced labor in violation of international standards are not imported into the U.S.

After this first round of comments is received and the guidelines are fi nalized, ILAB’s Offi ce of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Traffi cking (“Offi ce”) will publish a request for information regarding the goods produced by forced or child labor in violation of international standards. The Offi ce also expects to conduct hearings to assist it with developing the list. The Offi ce will evaluate the information obtained and compile the list, upon consulting with the appropriate U.S. government agencies. The list will be published in the Federal Register and Department of Labor website.

Drinker Biddle Gardner Carton recommends that importers become proactively involved in providing comments to the Department of Labor concerning the products that will appear on this list, to prevent any surprises once the list is published. According to the Federal Register Notice, the initial set of comments, on the proposed guidelines for creating the list, is due by October 31, 2007