In recent years, the United States government and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have taken a closer look at goods imported into the United States that are potentially made from forced labor or child labor. The goal of this increased scrutiny is to ensure the United States is involved in a fair and competitive trade environment.
Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 prohibited importation of any goods that were obtained or manufactured by forced or child labor except for goods not produced, “in such quantities in the United States to meet the consumption demands of the United States.”
This statute was further strengthened by the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA). TFTEA, which was signed in 2016, states that, “goods made with forced labor are no longer allowed into the country, regardless of consumptive demand.” Because of the TFTEA, goods imported that are produced using forced labor are subject to immediate seizure and possible legal action against the importer.
Ultimately, the goal is for all parties involved in the global supply chain to work together to ensure forced labor and child labor are not used to manufacture goods. This can be difficult to regulate at times since a manufacturer’s supply chain can be quite complex. Forced labor or child labor could be at the very root of the manufacturing process, ,when initial production begins. As a result, forced labor and child labor can be very hard to track.
How Has CBP Helped With Generating Awareness For These Important Guidelines?
To help with enforcing TFTEA and similar regulations, CBP has published various fact sheets and listed numerous resources on their website. That way, importers can develop a compliance system that will help combat these risks.
As recently as August 17, 2018, CBP published a Responsible Business Practices on Forced Labor white paper that lists many questions an importer can ask to help develop a robust supply chain compliance system. Some of those questions include:
- Does the U.S. Importer have a comprehensive understanding of the natural supply chain from sourcing of raw materials to subcontracting manufacturing to the assembly of finished goods destined for the U.S.?
- Has the U.S. Importer developed and applied a formal written code of conduct for all international interactions associated with the sourcing of foreign goods?
- Does the U.S. Importer have sufficient internal controls and conduct periodic compliance audits?
What Are Other Ways People Can Access This Important Information?
Currently, a mobile app is available to iPhone and Android users called “Sweat and Toil.” This app, produced by International Labor Affairs, allows importers to view countries and examine whether a good was produced through exploitation. The importer can use this information to drill down into a manufacturer’s supply chain. Importers can then verify that the suppliers they are working with do not utilize exploitative labor practices, which allows the importers to create an ethical compliance framework.
As stated on the CBP website, “CBP encourages stakeholders in the trade community to closely examine their supply chains to ensure goods imported into the United States are not mined, produced or manufactured, wholly or in part, with prohibited forms of labor, i.e. slave, convict, indentured, forced or indentured child labor.” Therefore, the trade community is encouraged to get involved and be involved in developing an ethical supply chain.
Contact us today or reach out to your Ascent Global Logistics representative directly for additional guidance in helping ensure your supply chain contains ethical suppliers, manufacturers and importers – be in the know!