Secretary of US Homeland Security Alejandro N Majorkas has committed to a 30-day immediate textile enforcement action plan to tackle unfair trade practices and ensure the country’s domestic sector “is here long into the future”.

The NCTO says it is looking forward to working actively with the US administration on the details of the plan and ensuring it meets all critical objectives for enforcement and deterrence of the Uyghur forced labour and de minimis loophole.

NCTO explained the critical issues shared with the secretary during a recent meeting included:

  • Immediately stepping up all free trade agreement (FTA) enforcement and maximising penalties
  • Immediately stepping up all Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act [UFLPA] enforcement and maximise penalties
  • Close the de minimis loophole that is facilitating millions of unchecked packages a day into our market and hurting our industry.

Secretary Majorkas told attendees at the virtual meeting that he will enlist US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and other agencies to increase their work in prosecuting illegal customs practices.

CBP said it had already stepped up its enforcement work in this area, including with physical inspections, testing and analysis at its laboratories, verification visits and audits. CBP is also increasing its capacity for isotropic testing of imported apparel goods suspected of violating the UFLPA.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) added it is working in collaboration with other agencies, as well as the private sector, to expand the UFLPA Entity List to hold companies to account.

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Majorkas asked agencies to provide him with a comprehensive enforcement plan in the next 30 days, including an assessment on whether current trade law provides adequate authorities to solve the root causes of issues.

“DHS will use all the tools at its disposal, including identifying suspicious transshipment practices, publicly identifying bad actors, isotopic testing, random parcel inspections, and other law enforcement efforts, in order to protect the integrity of our markets, hold perpetrators accountable, and safeguard the American textile industry,” Majorkas said.

NCTO president and CEO Kim Glas said in a statement: “The US textile industry greatly appreciated meeting with DHS Secretary Mayorkas and the senior leadership team on the unprecedented economic calamity facing this strategic supply chain. We discussed how the administration can immediately help our workers and industry.”

She also highlighted the industry has lost eight plants in three months and stated: “Plants that survived the Great Depression, the Great Recession and Covid aren’t surviving the economic environment due to demand destruction exacerbated by unfair trade practices.”

The news comes shortly after the NCTO, along with the Coalition for a Prosperous America and Alliance for American Manufacturing issued statements in support of the House China Select Committee’s leaders calling on the US DHS to crack down on unfair trade practices that are said to be facilitating the importation of products made with forced labour.

Representatives from the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the US and the Chinese Communist Party previously wrote to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, urging the DHS to take “immediate action” to strengthen the UFLPA’s enforcement.