CBP Notifies Importers as Uyghur Forced Labor June 21 Deadline Approaches

May 25, 2022

In anticipation of the June 21 implementation deadline for the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has begun issuing letters to “known importers” of imported merchandise possibly subject to the UFLPA. This includes imported merchandise sourced from locations or entities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

CBP’s “known importer” letters are issued on an informational basis. They advise recipients that future entries of merchandise subject to the UFLPA may be subject to CBP enforcement action, including seizure, forfeiture and/or penalties, or other appropriate action under the customs laws. Copies of the letters are published on CBP’s UFLPA guidance website.

Even if an importer does not receive a letter, CBP still expects all importers to review their supply chains and, “institute reliable measures to ensure imported goods are not produced wholly or in part with convict labor, forced labor, and/or indentured labor (including forced or indentured child labor).”

The scope of the UFLPA is broad. The law creates a “rebuttable presumption” that goods produced in the XUAR — wholly or in part — are the products of forced labor under section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. § 1307). This applies to all upstream and downstream products, whether manufactured in the XUAR, elsewhere in China, or in third countries.

Based on the existing CBP Withhold Release Orders (WROs), certain commodities, like solar and other polysilicon products, are likely to be an enforcement focus. CBP WROs have also focused on cotton, tomatoes, and downstream products, and we anticipate that these goods will continue to receive heighted scrutiny.

To overcome the UFLPA forced labor presumption, importers must demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that their supply chains are free of forced labor. This also requires that importers fully comply with a forthcoming “importer guidance” report to be published by the inter-agency Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force (FLETF, led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security). Publication of this report is required no later than June 21 — the same day that the UFLPA takes full effect.

CBP will also release its own UFLPA operational guidance for importers. CLK anticipates that CBP will publish this guidance prior to the June 21 deadline, and we continue to monitor for its release.

While the full scope of guidance is not yet available, we anticipate that the FLETF and CBP recommendations will reflect the U.S. Department of Labor’s guidance on supply chain due diligence and tracing. DOL’s framework includes:

  • Engaging stakeholders and partners
  • Assessing risks and impacts
  • Developing codes of conduct
  • Communicating and training across supply chains
  • Monitoring compliance
  • Remediating violations
  • Engaging independent reviews

Importers should continue their proactive measures to review their supply chains as we approach June 21. At a minimum, this should include an assessment of whether imports include merchandise, or components thereof, that are sourced from the XUAR region.

Contact us if you have questions about preventing forced labor in your supply chains.