Date: Friday, April 28th, 2023
Source: Sourcing Journal
U.S. customs officials have modified a Withhold Release Order (WRO) to permit the entry of Malaysian-made disposable gloves from a group of companies, jointly known as Smart Glove, after they were shut out due to “reasonable indications” of forced labor in their supply chain. Provided they don’t breach other import laws, shipments from Smart Glove Corporation, GX Corporation, GX3 Specialty Plant, Sigma Glove Industries and Platinum Glove Industries will no longer be automatically detained at American ports of entry, effective as of Wednesday.
It’s the third such modification customs officials have made this year in the wake of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act taking effect last summer.
“The Department of Homeland Security’s relentless enforcement efforts to prevent goods produced with forced labor from entering the United States are changing companies’ behavior, resulting in the elimination of forced labor from supply chains,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “Today’s modification of the withhold release order against Smart Glove proves that our enforcement efforts are driving responsible corporate citizenship and significant changes in corporate behavior, and that we will recognize those changes when they are instituted. Our efforts are driven by the core principle that every worker around the world deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”
Section 307 of the 1930 Tariff Act prohibits entry into the United States “[a]ll goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in any foreign country by convict labor or/and forced labor, or/and indentured labor, including forced or indentured child labor[.]” Under a WRO, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel are instructed to exclude and subject to seizure and forfeiture any imports it covers.
Smart Glove, CBP said, responded to the 2021 WRO by implementing various measures to address the indicators of forced labor that triggered the measure. These included repaying recruitment fees, improving living conditions and establishing new worker-centered policies and procedures.
“We are witnessing a shift in behavior from importers and businesses as they identify and eliminate forced labor from their supply chains so that they can do business in the U.S., which ensures our economic security and enhances protections against forced labor,” said Troy Miller, CBP’s acting commissioner. “CBP is proud to be a part of this positive change that directly impacts so many lives abroad and ensures fair competition for law-abiding American entrepreneurs and companies.”
The move follows a similar one in September 2021, when Customs and Border Protection struck its ban on Top Glove, also based in Malaysia, after reviewing evidence that the company had addressed all indicators of forced labor identified at its facilities, including debt bondage, excessive overtime, abusive working and living conditions, and retention of identity documents.
“Withhold Release Orders and Findings send a strong message to U.S. importers about the costs associated with doing business with entities that exploit forced labor, but they also offer a path to remediation,” Mayorkas said at the time. “This is a great example of the extraordinary efforts of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to protect human rights and American consumers and businesses from goods made by modern slavery.”