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November 15, 2022

US customs pauses ACE forced labour change on ‘industry concerns’

US Customs and Border Protection has reportedly halted a forced-labour-related change to the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) in light of industry concerns.

By Hannah Abdulla

According to law firm Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, the CBP said it was halting plans due to go live this month of a new alert that would “provide early notification to importers of goods that may have been produced in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China” and would therefore be subject to further scrutiny regarding forced labour under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.

Under the changes, three new validations would be performed when China is selected as a manufacturer’s country of origin for entry or China is selected as a manufacturer’s country of origin when a manufacturer identification code is created. Specifically:

  • Postal code would be a required field
  • Users would receive an error message if the postal code provided is not a valid Chinese postal code
  • Users would receive a warning message when a Uyghur region postal code has been provided

But according to ST&R, the CBP said it is postponing the change while it works with impacted users to address their concerns. To that end, CBP is forming a working group under the Trade Support Network that will gather input from the trade community on the challenges associated with the proposed implementation of this change and alternative approaches that could mitigate these concerns. 

Earlier this year a report warned brands to scrutinise their Chinese supply chains on the back of concerns Beijing’s focus on positioning Xinjiang as a manufacturing hub could make it more challenging to decipher whether products are made using forced labour.

On 21 June, the US government implemented its Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act (UFLPA). Should there be suspicion that garments, not necessarily originating from Xinjiang, but containing inputs that have originated in Xinjiang, the goods can be detained by CBP under the act and subject to further investigation. With 20% of the world’s cotton coming from Xinjiang, it can be reasonably assumed that concern is growing among US clothing brands and retailers who nevertheless, have expressed support for the policy.

A recent webinar hosted by Sourcemap explained why brands should harness supply chain mapping capabilities on the belief that governments across the world will follow in the footsteps of the US with its Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act.

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