How to Comply with CBP’s Forced Labor Requirements   

In the United States, the days of slavery and forced labor are long behind us, and as such, it can be difficult for many Americans to imagine that forced labor still occurs in other parts of the world; indeed, most Americans give little thought to the origins of their food, clothing, and myriad other products.

However, forced labor is a problem across the globe, and many products that are imported to the United States rely on forced labor, child labor, or labor that occurs in unsafe conditions. Modern-day slavery is a reality that many countries and their citizens are coping with.

In order to combat forced labor, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enforces strict regulations regarding items entering the United States that are the products of forced labor. In addition, Forced Labor has become a priority area for CBP with many importers being questioned about their supply chains.  Here’s what you need to know about the regulations and compliance–

Supply Chain Due Diligence and Forced Labor Laws

According to a PDF published by the CBP, the agency works diligently to prevent goods produced by forced labor from entering the United States. This includes any products that are manufactured in whole or in part by child labor, indentured labor, convict labor, or/and forced labor, as found in Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. § 1307). In addition to this long-standing requirement, a recent law passed in 2017–Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act–states that any merchandise coming out of North Korea is also prohibited from entry into the United States unless there is sufficient evidence produced that the merchandise is not a product of any form of forced and prohibited labor.  Several Chinese companies have been identified as employing North Korean nationals and the products imported into the U.S. have been refused admission.

Complying with CBP’s Forced Labor Requirement

It is important that all importers of goods from foreign nations ensure an ethical supply chain. The Department of Labor provides numerous guidelines for setting up a social compliance system that helps companies reach supply chain due diligence duties. If forced labor is suspected, CBP reserves the right to seize merchandise and hold it via a “withhold release order,” or WRO. If your merchandize is subject to a WRO, you have two options: export the detained shipment (it cannot enter the U.S.), or provide proof that the goods were not manufactured using forced labor. In order to do the latter, an importer must provide, within three months of the WRO:

  • A certificate of origin;
  • A supply chain audit report; and
  • A detailed statement providing evidence that merchandise was not produced with forced labor.

Get Help Meeting Forced Labor Requirements from an Experienced Customs Lawyer 

When you work with an experienced customs lawyer, your business can put in the place the systems approach necessary to ensure ethical sourcing, conduct audits, and establish a social compliance system. Further, if goods are detained, your attorney can assist you in gathering the evidence necessary to ensure release and mitigate consequences.

To schedule a consultation with an experienced import and customs lawyer today, contact The Law Offices of Paula M. Connelly by phone or online. All information you exchange with our law offices is completely confidential.


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