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February 22, 2021

US clothing imports included in Xinjiang detention order

By Leonie Barrie

Clothing that is produced anywhere in the world but has links to forced labour in China’s Xinjiang province is included in a recent withhold release order (WRO) banning imports into the US.

Under January’s WRO, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can detain cotton products – including apparel and textiles – at US ports of entry if they’re suspected of exploiting Xinjiang forced labour at any point in their supply chain, including the production or harvesting of the raw material.

Further clarification by CBP says the move also extends to clothing produced anywhere in the world. 

“The WRO is not limited to products produced in XUAR (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region). Downstream products produced outside of XUAR that incorporate these inputs may also be detained. 

“For example, a garment cut and sewn in Italy of fabric knit in Turkey from yarn spun in Shanghai, China is covered by the WRO, if the cotton was picked in XUAR. 

“Customs is initially targeting shipments with a known nexus to XUAR, reportedly based on an unpublished internal list of manufacturers in the region. However, the WRO gives Customs authority to seize cotton…produced anywhere if any inputs are from XUAR.”

In order to prove goods were not made with forced labour, importers must provide transaction documents for every level of the supply chain and transportation documents evidencing that the cotton is not sourced in XUAR.

“Affidavit from yarn producer and the source of raw cotton that identifies where the raw cotton was sourced. Purchase Order, Invoice, and Proof of Payment for the yarn and raw cotton. List of production steps and production record for the yarn, including records that identify the cotton and cotton producer of the raw cotton. Transportation documents from the cotton grower to yarn maker. Supporting documents related to employees that picked the cotton, time cards or the like, wage payment receipts, and daily process reports that relate to the raw cotton sold to the yarn producer.”

Importers with no direct relationships with the upstream suppliers/manufacturers must have a “comprehensive and transparent social compliance system in place.”

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