New Report Highlights Success of Trade Facilitation Act in Combating Forced Labor

New Report Highlights Success of Trade Facilitation Act in Combating Forced Labor

A new report has highlighted the success of the United States (U.S.) Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA) in increasing the ability of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) to prevent the import of products made using Chinese prison labor and forced labor in general.

This has occurred in a number of ways. In particular, the Act has sped up the process through which Withhold Release Orders (WROs) are issued, and allows anyone “who has reason to believe that merchandise produced by forced labor is being, or is likely to be, imported into the United States” to communicate this belief to the CBP. It also requires the Commissioner of the CBP to report annually to U.S. Congress, thereby putting pressure on the CBP to demonstrate active trade enforcement in protection of U.S. economic security.

Risks Associated with Chinese Prison Labor

According to the report, China maintains a network of prison labor facilities that use forced labor to produce goods intended for export. ‘Middlemen’ companies market the products in question for export, reducing visibility into the conditions in which the goods were manufactured. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, products known to be linked to Chinese forced labor as of September 2016 include artificial flowers, bricks, Christmas decorations, coal, cotton, electronics, fireworks, footwear, garments and construction nails.

Since the TFTEA entered into force, four WROs have been issued against Chinese companies. These were the first to be issued against any Chinese company since 1996, and are the first WROs to be issued since the Act came into force in 2016.

Learn more about the risks of forced labor in supply chains in the free Human Trafficking & Slavery eBook. Get your copy here.

Rising To the Challenge

Supply chain surveying tools like the Human Trafficking Risk Template (HTRT) give companies visibility into the policies, practices and procedures of their suppliers, thereby supporting their due diligence efforts. In the event your merchandise is detained by the U.S. CBP, you would then have 90 days to respond to the associated allegations. To meet this demand, you could utilize the data collected through the HTRT to support your efforts to prove to CBP agents the merchandise was not made with forced labor. This mitigates against the risk of supply chain disruption and reputational damage associated with having your company identified in the U.S. Customs Bulletin and the Federal Register.

By accepting data from the HTRT, Assent’s Human Rights Module works in tandem with this industry-standard tool to allow companies to screen for – and report on – risk among supply chain actors to inform stronger due diligence programming.

For more information, contact our human rights subject matter experts at