Comment Period Opens for New China Forced Labor Law

January 21, 2022

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (Pub. L. 117-78) (UFLPA) radically strengthens existing prohibitions on imports derived from forced labor in the People’s Republic of China, and especially in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). This will be a key enforcement priority for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in 2022.

“Rebuttable presumption” of forced labor

The UFLPA creates a “rebuttable presumption” that goods produced – wholly or in part – in the XUAR or by certain entities are the products of forced labor. This applies to all upstream and downstream products, whether manufactured in the XUAR, elsewhere in China, or in third countries.

Compliance with the UFLPA will require a multi-layer strategy, and importers should act now. CLK can help design and implement anti-forced labor programs that:

  1. Identify forced labor risks in past import activities
  2. Strengthen labor policy statements
  3. Certify foreign suppliers
  4. Proactively engage CBP

Communication with CBP is vital. CBP’s Office of Trade, Trade Remedy Law Enforcement Directorate (TRLED) leads CBP’s forced labor enforcement, and CLK attorneys are well-positioned to guide these conversations.

Public comments due March 10, 2022

The UFLPA takes full effect on June 21, 2022. However, the law first requires that the interagency Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force (FLETF) (chaired by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) solicit comments from the public and develop an enforcement strategy. This includes how best to administer the “rebuttable presumption.”

The UFLPA comment period opens January 24, with comments due by March 10, 2022.  DHS, on behalf of the FLETF, has requested input on several elements of the UFLPA, including:

  • Evidence required to overcome the “rebuttable presumption”
  • Due diligence for supply chain tracing
  • Measures to identify third-country supply chain routes
  • Evidence to resolve detentions or seizures by CBP

Visibility on this issue is high. FLETF membership includes DHS, CBP, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), and the Departments of Labor (DOL), State, Justice (DOJ), Treasury, and Commerce (DOC). Not later than 45 days after the close of the comment period (April 24, 2022), the law requires that the FLETF hold a public hearing. We expect this hearing to receive significant press coverage.

CLK encourages importers to consider submitting comments, and we can assist in this process. Access to the docket is available at (DHS Docket No. DHS-2022-0001).

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