On January 13, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued its latest Withhold Release Order (WRO) - announcing it will detain cotton products and tomato products produced in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region at all U.S. ports of entry.
This is the fourth WRO that CBP has issued since the start of this year, and the second on products originating in Xinjiang. In 2020, eight of the thirteen WROs issued were on goods made by forced labor in China.
It is critical for importers to understand not only the scope of this WRO, but also to review their responsibilities as importers and the potential impact to their supply chains.
As defined under U.S. Federal statute, “the importation of merchandise produced, wholly or in part, by convict labor, forced labor, and/or indentured labor, including forced or indentured child labor is prohibited”. CBP enforces prohibition on imported goods made by forced labor and will detain shipments suspected of being imported in violation of this statute by use of Withhold Release Orders.
The latest WRO was issued against imports of cotton and tomatoes and their related downstream products produced in whole or in part in the Xinjiang region. This also includes downstream products produced outside the Xinjiang region that incorporate these inputs. These products include apparel, textiles, tomato seeds, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and other goods made with cotton and tomatoes.