President Joe Biden late last month signed into law a measure that introduces a U.S. import ban on goods mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China through forced labor.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) takes effect June 21, 2022. “This new law gives the U.S. government new tools to prevent goods made with forced labor in Xinjiang from entering U.S. markets and to further promote accountability for persons and entities responsible for these abuses,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a press statement.
Under the UFLPA, the following are presumed to be produced by forced labor and, thus, barred from entering the United States:
- Goods mined, manufactured, or produced, wholly or in part, in Xinjiang;
- Goods produced by entities that work with the government of Xinjiang “to recruit, transport, transfer, harbor, or receive forced labor” out of Xinjiang;
- Exported products to the United States that meet either of the conditions in the first two bullets; and
- Sourced material from Xinjiang or sourced material from facilities and entities working with the Xinjiang government that use forced labor.
A U.S. importer may rebut the presumption of forced labor but must be prepared to demonstrate to the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol “clear and convincing evidence” the goods were not produced wholly or in part by forced labor. The importer must also be prepared to respond to all inquiries for information by the commissioner.
Companies that fall under the umbrella of the UFLPA have until March 8 to submit comments to the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force. The task force will then have 180 days to submit a report to Congress laying out a strategy that, in part, will contain a list of entities in Xinjiang that use forced labor to mine or produce goods. Also provided will be a list of foreign persons that acted as agents of entities that work with the regional authorities to supply forced labor outside of Xinjiang.
The task force’s strategy also will include “a plan for working with private sector entities seeking to conduct supply chain due diligence to prevent the importation of goods mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part with forced labor into the United States,” the law states. This part of the strategy will be “especially informative and provide impacted companies with the best opportunity to influence the enforcement and compliance regime,” law firm Foley wrote in a blog post.
Foley further recommended companies “continue to review their own supply chains to ensure that exposure to product sourced from or assembled in [Xinjiang] is eliminated. Companies that fail to do so before the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act becomes effective … will face severe supply chain disruptions.”