We talked two weeks ago about forced labor as a priority trade issue for Customs and how the agency is stepping up enforcement and issuance of Withhold Release Orders. While most attention has been focused on China and the Xinjiang region’s efforts, the agency last week took action against one of the largest such companies.
In July 2020, CBP issued a Withhold Release Order on disposable gloves manufactured by Top Glove Corporation Bhd. The agency says in a press release that the July decision was “based on reasonable, but not conclusive information that multiple forced labor indicators exist in Top Glove’s production process.” Included in the forced labor indicators are debt bondage, excessive overtime, abusive working and living conditions, and retention of identity documents.”
On March 29th, formal notification of a finding was published in the Federal Register advising:
“Pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1307 and 19 CFR 12.42(f), it is hereby determined that certain articles described in paragraph II.B. that are mined produced or manufactured in whole or in part with the use of convict, forced, or indentured labor by Top Glove Corporation Bhd in Malaysia, are being, or are likely to be, imported into the United States. Based upon this determination, the port director may seize the covered merchandise for violation of 19 U.S.C. 1307 and commence forfeiture proceedings according to 19 CFR part 162, subpart E, unless the importer establishes by satisfactory evidence that the merchandise was not produced in any part with the use of prohibited labor specified in this Finding.”
The Federal Register notice advises that this pertains to the following HTS numbers:
For importers of products covered by this finding, they should expect that CBP will begin to seize these shipments. If taken, importers must produce evidence demonstrating that the goods were not produced with forced labor and exempt from seizure. Understandably, this threshold is burdensome without legal assistance or auditors available in Malaysia to certify or provide proof to the contrary.
Sobel Network Shipping maintains a list of law firms with experience representing importers when seized under a Withhold Release Order. We are also members of global freight forwarding networks allowing us to utilize companies like ours in countries like Malaysia to recommend independent auditing companies or help look elsewhere in the world for manufacturers.
To better understand this case or any other Withhold Release Orders currently active, contact us to learn more.