Today, President Biden signed into law the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which bans the importation of products made with forced labor in China. The new law will directly impact imports connected to China’s Xinjiang region. Commodities from Xinjiang, as well as downstream products made elsewhere in China or other countries, are also covered by the law.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, H.R. 6256, specifically targets all upstream and downstream products made with the forced labor of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tibetans, or members of other persecuted groups – including convict labor. The legislation comes on the heels of previous executive actions by the Trump and Biden Administrations to ban the importation of cotton, tomato, solar panels, and other materials from Xinjiang, if such products – or downstream merchandise – are produced with forced labor.
Presumption that goods connected to Xinjiang are products of forced labor
The new law creates a “rebuttable presumption” that any goods made wholly or in part in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are the products of forced labor prohibited under section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. § 1307).
The potential impacts are large. For example, if a U.S. importer imports a finished good from a supplier in another region of China – or even a third country – made in part using materials from Xinjiang, the importer may unexpectedly fall under the presumption. This could significantly delay, or even prohibit, certain shipments.
Following a 180-day period for implementation (including public comments and hearings), the legislation requires that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) shall prohibit the entry of goods from Xinjiang, unless CBP determines that the importer of record has:
- Fully complied with a guidance report – to be published in the future by the inter-agency Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force; and
- Responded to any information requests from CBP.
This could significantly disrupt importations from Xinjiang, other parts of China, or even third countries.
Importer guidance report and requirements
The importer guidance report will not be available for at least 75 days. This could be delayed, however, because the law first requires a public comment and hearing period. Publication of the guidance report near the end of the 180-day implementation period is likely.
The guidance report will address three importer requirements:
- Due diligence for supply chain tracing;
- Evidence to establish that goods are not made, wholly or in part, in Xinjiang; and
- Evidence to show that goods from China are not the product of forced labor.
How CBP will determine compliance remains to be seen. For example, importers could be required to certify their compliance on an annual basis. Alternatively, CBP may require individual certifications for each importation.
We expect additional information in this area, and CBP may amend its regulations to fully implement the law.
Timing for importers
CLK will continue to monitor this space for the announcement of the Forced Labor Task Force’s public comment and hearing dates.
Going forward, importers should identify any imports from China’s Xinjiang region, and analyze potential instances of Uyghur, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tibetan, or convict labor in their supply chains.
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.
This article replaces our December 20, 2021, post concerning Congress’ passage of H.R. 6256.