U.S. Forced Labor Petitions

Question: When U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) receives a forced labor petition, is this enough documentation to halt trade of the identified merchandise in the U.S. market?

Answer: U.S. CBP regulations state that any person who has reason to believe that merchandise produced by forced labor is being, or is likely to be, imported into the United States may report it to the CBP. They can do so via the e-Allegations portal on the CBP website. However, receipt of a petition alone is not enough for CBP to detain the merchandise.

First, petitions are reviewed to ensure the information supplied meets the standards outlined in the CBP regulations prior to the issue of a withhold release order (WRO). They need to reasonably, but not conclusively, indicate that merchandise is being, or is likely to be, imported in violation of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act’s forced labor prohibition. If this is done effectively, the CBP may issue a WRO. In other words, the agency can take action on “reasonable suspicion” — a fairly low evidential threshold.


Content is current as of 2020-01-24.

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