The U.S. government and CBP are taking a very hardline stance on imports of products made by forced labor. While CBP has been targeting goods produced by forced labor for a few years, they are now taking a focused approach with goods from China. Specifically, CBP is introducing tools to help them in the enforcement of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA). Importers of goods from China need to be aware that the UFLPA establishes a rebuttable presumption that any product that is mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) is prohibited entry into the United States.
What is a rebuttable presumption and why should importers care?
Under the UFLPA, the rebuttable presumption assumes that if the goods are wholly or partially produced in XUAR part of China, they are produced from forced labor and should be denied entry. It is the importer’s responsibility to prove to CBP that the goods are NOT produced by forced labor. CBP can detain any shipment they believe to be in violation of the UFLPA. The process of releasing the detained can take many weeks if importers are not prepared, leading to potentially massive storage fees at the port of entry.
How will CBP be targeting shipments and importers?
We don’t know all of CBP’s criteria. However, we do know a few determining factors:
- If the shipper or manufacturer is located in the XUAR region of China, this will almost certainly trigger detention. In fact, beginning March 18, 2023, entries of goods from China must include a submission of the manufacturer’s postal code. In the past, Chinese manufacturers provided their names and addresses sometimes with, and sometimes without the China postal code. Moving forward, all entries of goods made in China will be required to include the manufacturer’s postal code.
- Certain products are being specifically targeted:
- cotton – importers of textile products containing cotton should be prepared
- polysilicon – importers of solar panels should be prepared
- vinyl or PVC – CBP is specifically targeting vinyl flooring. However, importers of products containing PVC should still be prepared to answer questions about the sourcing of their PVC material. This includes the sourcing of originating chemicals (chlorine, carbon, and ethylene) used to make the PVC
- CBP will restrict imports of goods from the UFLPA Entity List. This is a list of manufacturers already found to be in violation of the UFLPA. Importers need to make sure that their products as well as any components or raw materials are not sourced from any business on the UFLPA Entity List.
What can CBP do to incoming shipments?
- CBP can detain shipments. When a shipment is detained, it must remain under CBP supervision in a bonded location. Importers will be responsible for any demurrage, storage, and exam fees.
- CBP can exclude shipments. Depending on the importer’s response to the detention, CBP can decide to exclude a shipment. The importer will be required to export the goods at their own expense.
- CBP can seize shipments.
What can importers proactively do?
Importers should read through the following:
- CBP’s Operational Guidance for Importers regarding the UFLPA.
- CBP’s Best Practices for Applicability Reviews
- Guidance on Executive Summaries – I think this is possibly the most useful document for importers to review. It gives an important guideline to help importers decide what information they need to gather ahead of time and how to organize that information to present to CBP.
- CBP FAQ website for UFLPA.
This is a strong warning message to all importers. Even if your finished product is not made in China, there is still a possibility that certain parts or components were made in China. It is imperative for all importers to have a complete and detailed understanding of the entire supply chain that led to the production of imported goods.