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U.S. bans all cotton and tomatoes from China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region

Washington — Wednesday’s Trump administration announced a ban on the import of cotton and tomatoes from China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and all products made from these materials. This is due to human rights abuses and the widespread use of forced labor in the region.

This measure aimed to distance the atrocities of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, but has a significant impact on apparel and food manufacturers struggling to keep their supply chains free of all ingredients in the region. May give. The region is a major source of cotton, coal, chemicals, sugar, tomatoes and polysilicon, a component of solar panels and is supplied to factories in China and around the world.

The ban allows customs authorities to suspend imports suspected of being made from raw materials from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, whether traveling directly from China to the United States or via other countries.

According to human rights groups, China has detained more than one million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other groups in camps against a minority group of mainly Muslims at the western end of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, detaining the rest. A large-scale crackdown was carried out, including close monitoring.

Forced labor also seems to be widespread in this area. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the investigation found many indicators of forced labor in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, including debt restraints, movement restrictions, wage withholding, abusive living and working conditions. The Chinese government has denied the existence of forced labor in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, saying that all arrangements are voluntary.

Scott Nova, secretary-general of the Workers’Rights Consortium, a workers’ rights group, said the ban was “high decibels for all apparel brands that continue to deny the spread and problems of forced labor-produced cotton. Calling for awakening. ” area.

“This ban will redefine how the apparel industry, from Amazon to Nike to Zara, will procure its materials and workforce,” Nova said. “Global apparel brands that have not left the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region or are planning a very quick withdrawal are seeking legal and reputational disasters.”

Workers’ Rights Consortium estimates that American brands and retailers import more than 1.5 billion Clothing that uses Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region materials every year, with retail sales of over $ 20 billion. China is also the world’s largest producer of tomatoes, with the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region accounting for the majority of its production, the group said.

Independent researchers and media reports have associated dozens of the world’s most prominent multinationals with workers and products in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, including Apple, Nike, Kraft Heinz and Campbell’s Soup. Campbell said he no longer procures products from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Some textile and apparel companies using cotton and yarn in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have announced that they will break relationships with Patagonia, Marks & Spencer, H & M and others. However, many companies find it difficult to track the origin of all products used by Chinese suppliers, especially given the lack of independent auditor access to Xinjiang facilities.

Mark Morgan, deputy commissioner for the US Customs and Border Protection, said the order “sends a clear message to the trade community: knows the supply chain.” He added that importers need to make sure that their supply chains are free of forced labor. “It’s a law.”

The Trump administration has added increasingly restrictive measures to the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, including imposing sanctions on dozens of businesses and individuals on suspicion of human rights abuses.

In December, customs officials announced a ban on cotton products by the Xinjiang Production Construction Corps, an economic and paramilitary organization that produces much of the cotton in the region. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has already detained 43 cargoes worth more than $ 2 million under the ban, officials said Wednesday.

Congress is also considering clearing legislation blocking imports from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region unless companies can prove that there is no forced labor in the supply chain running in the region.

The United States is taking the strongest action in this regard, but both Canada and the United Kingdom have introduced rules this week that restrict Xinjiang-related goods from entering their country.

According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, exports from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to the United States and Europe increased significantly from 2019 to 2020, despite growing concerns about China’s practices in the region.

But trade experts question whether the new measures are ready to fully enforce widespread bans that require customs officers to track Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region materials through supply chains around the world. I say it will be.

Customs suffered from staff shortages and other issues, despite new departments and resources dedicated to blocking forced labor products, according to a report released by the US Government Accountability Office in October.

“The challenge is to be able to link what arrives at the point of entry to the raw materials produced,” said Brenda Smith, assistant secretary-general of the Customs and Border Protection’s Trade Department, in a call to reporters Wednesday. It was. In the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. “She said the agency was applying new tracking methods to discover products made by forced labor.

Officials said the ministry is using new technologies such as pollen analysis to identify cotton and other materials in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in foreign products.

U.S. bans all cotton and tomatoes from China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region

Source link U.S. bans all cotton and tomatoes from China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region

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