The US has issued a new import detention order on garments produced by the Hero Vast Group that are suspected of being manufactured using prison labour in China.
The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has issued a withhold release order on merchandise containing garments produced by the Hero Vast Group – including Shanghai Hero Vast International Trading Co Ltd, Henan Hero Vast Garment Co Ltd, Yuexi Hero Vast Garment Co Ltd, Ying Han International Co Ltd, and Hero Vast Canada Inc.
The order was based on information that reasonably indicated the use of prison labour in the production of these garments.
According to international trade law firm Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg (ST&R), such goods are subject to exclusion and/or seizure and may lead to criminal investigation of the importer. The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 closed a loophole in this law that had allowed imports of certain forced labor-produced goods if they were not produced domestically in such quantities as to meet consumptive demands.
Federal statute 19 USC 1307 prohibits the importation of merchandise mined, manufactured, or produced, wholly or in part, by forced labour, including convict labour, forced child labour, and indentured labour.
Importers of detained shipments are provided an opportunity to export their shipments or submit proof to CBP that the merchandise was not produced with forced labour.
“As part of its trade enforcement responsibilities, CBP is dedicated to vigilantly monitoring US-bound supply chains for links to forced labour, including prison labour, and will act to deter and disrupt the importation of merchandise made with forced labour practices,” said Brenda Smith, executive assistant commissioner of CBP’s Office of Trade.
“The use of forced labour is not just a serious human rights issue, but it also brings about unfair competition in our global supply chains. CBP’s goal is to ensure that goods made by forced labour never reach US consumers.”
Since September 2019, CBP has issued eleven WROs, including four against products from China.
The US is cracking down on Chinese companies allegedly implicated in human rights abuses in Xinjiang. In the most recent move, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) added textile and garment factories to its ‘Entity List,’ a blacklist that now includes Changji Esquel Textile Co Ltd, Hetian Taida Apparel Co Ltd, and Nanjing Synergy Textiles Co Ltd.
Just this week, investors were being being urged to take steps to identify, prevent and mitigate risks in portfolio companies to ensure they have no direct links to human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region.
In a report on ‘Human Rights Risks in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region – Practical Guidance for Investors’, the Investor Alliance for Human Rights says companies with business activities or business relationships in, or connected with, the Uyghur region are at significant risk of causing, contributing, or being directly linked to actual or potential negative human rights impacts.
Hero Vast Group could not be reached for comment.