Biden Administration to Ban Solar Components from Chinese Company over Forced Labor

June 24, 2021

The Biden-Harris Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced on June 24th a Withhold Release Order (WRO) on silica-based products made by Hoshine Silicon Industry Co., Ltd., a company located in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

In-scope WRO solar products include any of the following manufactured or derived from Hoshine materials:

  • Metallurgical-grade silicon (MGS)
  • Polysilicon
  • Ingots
  • Wafers
  • Solar cells
  • Solar modules

The WRO instructs CBP personnel at all U.S. ports of entry to immediately begin detaining shipments that contain silica-based products made by Hoshine or other materials and goods derived from Hoshine-produced materials.  Additionally, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security has added Hoshine and four additional Chinese companies to the Entity List; and the Department of Labor has updated its “List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor” to include polysilicon produced with forced labor in the PRC.

Under the WRO and federal statute 19 U.S.C. § 1307, CBP enforces the United States’ prohibition of the importation of merchandise produced, wholly or in part, by convict labor, forced labor, and/or indentured labor, including forced or indentured child labor.  If CBP detains a shipment of merchandise suspected to have been produced using forced labor, the importer must demonstrate to CBP that the merchandise was not produced by forced labor or must export the shipment from the United States

The cadence of CBP’s implementation of the WRO on silica-based products from XUAR may follow CBP’s recent approach with WROs applicable to cotton and tomatoes grown in Xinjiang.  Initially, CBP focused on specific imports from specific companies.  Subsequently, however, its enforcement approach expanded broadly to cotton and tomatoes grown in Xinjiang, as well as to all products made whole or in part using such Xinjiang cotton and tomatoes regardless of whether these downstream products are produced in Xinjiang or elsewhere.

U.S. importers should review their supply chains to ensure that they are not importing products derived from forced labor.  Polysilicon manufacturers in the United States, Europe, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam may present sourcing alternatives.  CBP has indicated that it will continue investigating allegations of forced labor in the polysilicon industry, and we expect that scrutiny of global supply chains of solar products to increase substantially.

Contact us if you have questions about preventing forced labor in your supply chains or engaging CBP to stop the importation of forced labor products.

Action Items

  • Review solar product supply chains for Hoshine Silicon Industry Co., Ltd. materials and polysilicon from Xinjiang.
  • Identify the names of direct and indirect suppliers and communicate to suppliers to prohibit use of Hoshine materials.
  • Evaluate alternative sources of supply due to the likelihood of the WRO program expanding.
  • Engage with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to assist in preventing the importation of products derived from forced labor.

Additional Information

White House – Fact Sheet: New U.S. Government Action on Force Labor in Xinjiang

U.S. Customs and Border Protection – Withhold Release Orders (WROs)

CBP FAQ – WROs Concerning Cotton and Tomatoes

May 2021 report by the Helena Kennedy Centre (Australia), In Broad Daylight: Uyghur Forced Labour and Global Solar Supply Chains