I import clothes from China, will the clothes be banned?

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According to Reuters, China’s Ministry of Commerce claims the US’s recent legislation banning imports of goods from the Xinjiang region as “economic bullying”. The Xinjiang region in China is a large manufacturer of cotton and solar panels and last week’s signing of the import ban will heavily impact US imports of clothing from China.

If you are an importer of any type of clothing or goods made from cotton shipped from China, you may be wondering whether the ban will impact you.

The short answer is: YES.

While the ban specifically mentions the Xinjiang region, enforcement by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Customs) will apply to goods manufactured elsewhere in China and shipped to the US. From our experience – Customs will ask importer of records who import textiles to prove the cotton is not from the Xinjiang region.

Good shipped from any port in China will be subject to the same scrutiny and it is important to take action now to limit any Customs delay will have on your import (and your business).

If you are an importer of record, I strongly suggest the following:

  1. Email the manufacturer and ask about the supply chain and sourcing of materials.
  2. Ask your supplier where the cotton is from, is it from Xinjiang?
  3. Ask your supplier for proof and documentation of where they source the cotton.
  4. Ask for something in writing (affidavit/certification/etc.) that you can provide in the event CBP sends a CF-29 or detains/seizes your merchandise.

If you want to get an import compliance manual in place – or have any questions about maintaining import compliance with respect to the most recent ban, or any other import risks – contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, DH@GJATradeLaw.com.

CBP issues Withhold Release Order on Malaysian glove producers

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Please see below for the text of CBP’s WRO for disposable gloves produced by Malaysian company – Smart Glove

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Release Date: November 4, 2021

Agency will detain imports of disposable gloves produced using forced labor

WASHINGTON — Effective November 4, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at all U.S. ports of entry will detain disposable gloves produced in Malaysia by a group of companies collectively known as Smart Glove. This group of companies includes Smart Glove Corporation Sdn Bhd, GX Corporation Sdn Bhd, GX3 Specialty Plant, Sigma Glove Industries, and Platinum Glove Industries Sdn Bhd.

“In the past two years, CBP has set an international standard for ensuring that goods made with forced labor do not enter the U.S. commerce,” said Troy Miller, CBP Acting Commissioner. “Manufacturers, like Smart Glove, who fail to abide by our laws will face consequences as we root out this inhumane practice from the U.S. supply chain.” 

CBP issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) against disposable gloves produced by Smart Glove based on information that reasonably indicates that Smart Glove production facilities utilize forced labor. CBP identified seven of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) indicators of forced labor during its investigation.

Federal statute 19 U.S.C. 1307 prohibits the importation of merchandise produced, wholly or in part, by convict labor, forced labor, and/or indentured labor, including forced or indentured child labor. CBP detains shipments of goods suspected of being imported in violation of this statute. Importers of detained shipments have the opportunity to export their shipments or demonstrate that the merchandise was not produced with forced labor.

“There is no place for forced labor in today’s world, particularly in U.S. supply chains”, said CBP Office of Trade Executive Assistant Commissioner AnnMarie R. Highsmith. “It undermines not only the U.S. economy but our commitment to upholding human rights throughout the world.”

This is the third WRO CBP has issued in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022.  In FY 2021, CBP issued seven WROs and two Findings. The ILO estimates that 25 million workers suffer under conditions of forced labor worldwide. Foreign companies exploit forced labor to sell goods below market value. This exposes vulnerable populations to inhumane working conditions like physical and sexual violence, isolation, restriction of movement, withholding of wages, excessive overtime, and more. It also hurts law-abiding businesses, threatens American jobs, and exposes consumers to unwittingly supporting unethical business practices. 

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If you have any questions about this WRO, or if you are subject to a WRO and want to explore your options – contact David Hsu by phone/text at anytime: 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

US detains solar panel imports due to forced labor concerns.

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Back in June of 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection imposed a ban on solar panels from a company called Hoshine Silicon – a producer of raw materials used in the manufacturing of solar panels. The ban was instituted by CBP under the forced labor provisions – in which CBP can block goods believe to have been made using forced labor. Hoshine Silicon operates plants in China’s Xinjiang region and is suspected of using forced labor. Forced labor covers a broad range of actions by the employer and in the case of Hoshine, it is believed they intimidate workers and restrict their movements. Hoshine is also believed to be participating in state-sponsored employment programs targeted towards minorities in the Xinjiang region into factory jobs – forced labor in that there is no choice but to accept the jobs.

Hoshine plays a major role in the manufacturing of solar panels and the raw materials they sell are sold to at least 8 of the largest polysilicon manufacturers, also based in China. The polysilicon is then used to make solar panels. The largest solar manufacturing companies are based in China due to cheap electricity and other low manufacturing costs. Some human rights watchdogs claim the use of forced labor is another factor driving down the prices of Chinese solar panels.

If you have had your goods detained based on suspicion of being manufactured using forced labor – contact David Hsu by phone or text anytime at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Does my company need a Social Compliance program?

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Yes and Yes. While import and export compliance are the typical programs in place for importers and exporters – one often neglected compliance program importers must have is the social compliance program.

The social compliance program is necessary to ensure compliance with Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930, prohibiting the importation of merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured, wholly or in part, in any foreign country by forced or indentured child labor – including forced child labor. Importers who import goods produced with forced labor may have their goods subject to exclusion, detention, seizure and may lead to a criminal investigation.

While many importers are confident their manufacturing supplier is not using forced labor, CBP also goes after importers who are downstream from the actual instance of forced labor. For example, even though you do not purchase goods from a company using forced labor – if the raw materials used in the production of the goods you import are made using forced labor – your goods are subject to detention. Even if the raw materials go through several manufacturers or companies before being incorporated into the final product you import – you as the importer of record are liable for any instances of forced labor at any stage of the supply chain.

A social compliance program is therefore a must to minimize the risk of a Customs detention on the basis of use of forced labor. Not only do importers need a social compliance program in place, they also need to adequately educate and train all key personnel on minimizing the importation of goods produced using forced labor.

If you want to minimize your detention risk of goods subject to a pending Withhold Release Order or have any questions about whether your goods may be subject to detention based on the multitude of outstanding WRO’s in place – call us for your free consultation. Our firm prepares and trains companies on forced labor compliance and are ready to help you. Call David Hsu on his cellphone or text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

COVID and Counterfeits.

As the year ends, the 2020 COVID lockdowns has resulted in increased seizure by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) of face masks, un approved testing kits, unlabeled medicine, non-FDA approved treatments, etc.

COVID-19 Test Kit
Image of non-FDA approved COVID-19 test kits, source CBP.gov

In the past month, CBP has seized:

  1. 6,080 counterfeit 3M masks in Cincinnati labeled as “3M Disposable Respirators Model 8210”. The shipment from Hong Kong was scrutinized by CBP because the country of origin marking on the outside of the box was labeled as “Made in the USA”. CBP officers determined the 3M masks were counterfeit and seized the goods before they were to be sent to Kingston, Jamaica.
  2. CBP officers in San Diego seized a shipment containing 251 non-FDA approved COVID-19 test kits from Mexico. The shipment caught the attention of CBP because the kits were manifested as plastic cards. Over 251 test kits divided among two packages were seized and likely to be destroyed.
  3. In another shipment, CBP officers in El Paso seized more than 100,000 counterfeit 3M N95 surgical masks for use by hospital workers. If authentic, the N95 surgical masks carried an MSRP of $600,480.

If you have had your COVID-related goods seized by Customs, contact customs seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

ICE HSI special agents determined the masks were counterfeit after working with the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center and 3M Company.

“The seizure of these counterfeit surgical masks not only ensures the health and safety of our frontline health care workers by preventing them from receiving inferior personal protective equipment, it also protects the integrity of the American economy.  We will continue to aggressively investigate, arrest and prosecute criminal counterfeiters who show a total disregard for human life and take advantage of a relentless world pandemic for economic gain.” said Erik P. Breitzke, acting special agent in charge of ICE HSI El Paso.

“HSI and CBP will continue to collaborate to prevent unauthorized and counterfeit products from getting to U.S. consumers to protect the health and safety of the American public and the American economy,” said Ysleta Port Director Arnoldo Gomez. “This large seizure of counterfeit surgical masks, destined for frontline medical workers, demonstrates the great collaborative effort between CBP and HSI. Counterfeit surgical masks pose a great risk to our medical community, and any individual who may use them.” 

This shipment is in violation of Importation, Removal and Contrary to Law (19 U.S.C. 1595a(c)(2)(A)) and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. ICE HSI El Paso is investigating the seizure with assistance from CBP.

ICE HSI launched Operation Stolen Promise in April 2020 to protect U.S. consumers from the increasing and evolving threat posed by the pandemic. The operation involves various federal agencies, including CBP, the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, and multiple private sector partners, including Pfizer, 3M, Amazon and others.

Operation Stolen Promise combines ICE HSI’s expertise in global trade, financial fraud, international operations and cybercrime to investigate financial fraud schemes, the importation of prohibited pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, offending e-commerce schemes, and any other illicit criminal activities associated with the COVID-19 virus that may compromise legitimate trade, financial systems and/or endangers the public. 

For more information or to report COVID

Zimbabwe claims CBP’s accusation of use of forced labor in their diamond mine is a “shameless lie”.

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Earlier this week, I blogged about CBP’s issuance of a Withhold Release Order (WRO) that allows CBP to seize products produced “in whole or in part using forced labor”.

One of the products subject to detention are “Rough diamonds from the Marange Diamond Fields in Zimbabwe; mined from forced labor.

Earlier today, moneyweb.co.za (a Zimbabwe financial web publication) accused the US of lying about diamond mining at the Marange Diamond Fields using forced labor – calling the claim a “shameless lie”.

In support of their claim, the article cites the Kimberley Process (steps that are taken to ensure diamond mining isn’t used to fund conflicts) finding that there are no restrictions on trade in Zimbabwean diamonds. The Kimberley Process represents 81 countries and covers 99.8% of the global rough diamond production.

Zimbabwe’s deputy mines minister, Polite Kambamura is quoted as saying the “doors are open” if CBP wants to visit Marange and that “we are a responsible state miner that operates within the laws of the country and we observe strict adherence to critical tenets of corporate governance”.

Like Marange in Zimbabwe, if you feel your company has been wrongly placed on CBP’s WRO list, contact experienced customs and trade attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

CBP issues detention orders against companies who may have used forced labor.

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According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) press release, CBP issued 5 Withhold Release Orders (WROs) covering different products imported from different countries. WRO’s are also detention orders and allow CBP to seize products that are produced in whole or in part using forced labor.

The detention orders are part of a US law that makes it illegal to import goods to the US that are made “wholly or in part by forced labor”.  Forced labor covers convict labor, indentured labor and child labor.

The press release did not specify how CBP was made aware of the allegations of forced labor, but typically investigations may be started by news reports and tips from either the public or trade community.

According to the press release, the following WROs are effective immediately:

Garments produced by Hetian Taida Apparel Co., Ltd. in Xinjiang, China; produced with prison or forced labor.
Disposable rubber gloves produced in Malaysia by WRP Asia Pacific Sdn. Bhd.; produced with forced labor.
Gold mined in artisanal small mines (ASM) in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); mined from forced labor.
Rough diamonds from the Marange Diamond Fields in Zimbabwe; mined from forced labor.
Bone black manufactured in Brazil by Bonechar Carvão Ativado Do Brasil Ltda; produced with forced labor.

If you are an importer and have had your items seized on suspicion of being wholly or in part produced by forced labor – contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu. We assist importers in re-exporting the shipment or submitting information to counter CBP’s claims – call/text 832-896-6288 or email attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.