"The Biden Administration will also make it a top priority to address the widespread human rights abuses of the Chinese Government’s forced labour programme," the agenda states

"The Biden Administration will also make it a top priority to address the widespread human rights abuses of the Chinese Government’s forced labour programme," the agenda states

The US is committed to combating unfair Chinese trade practices and enforcing existing trade agreements, the first trade policy agenda released by the Biden Administration revealed.

The agenda says the US recognises China's "coercive and unfair trade practices" harm American workers, threaten its technological edge, weaken its supply chain resiliency, and undermine its national interests.  

The Biden Administration is "committed to using all available tools to take on the range of China's unfair trade practices that continue to harm US workers and businesses," the agenda states. "Addressing the China challenge will require a comprehensive strategy and more systematic approach than the piecemeal approach of the recent past. The Biden Administration is conducting a comprehensive review of US trade policy toward China as part of the development of its overall China strategy."

It adds: "The Biden Administration will also make it a top priority to address the widespread human rights abuses of the Chinese Government's forced labour programme that targets the Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and elsewhere in the country. Americans and consumers around the world do not want products made with forced labour on store shelves, and workers should not be disadvantaged by competing with a state-sponsored regime of systematic repression. The trade agenda will consider all options to combat forced labour and enhance corporate accountability in the global market."

Around 80% of China's cotton is produced in the Uyghur region – representing around 20% of the industry's global cotton supply – much of which is made into yarn used in textile and apparel produced in the region, and other factories globally. This presents huge challenges to the industry in identifying and eliminating and cotton that has originated in Xinjiang. 

Last month, the US updated legislation to prevent any goods entering the country unless there is proof they do not contain inputs originating from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China. 

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (H.R. 1155) introduced by Representative James McGovern (D-MA) is an updated version of H.R. 6210, which passed the House in September 2020 by a vote of 406-3.

It would create a "rebuttable presumption" that any goods made in XUAR are produced with forced labour and prohibited from entering the United States unless "clear and convincing" evidence is shown to the contrary.

US apparel, footwear and retail groups have also previously urged congressional leaders for  "quick, clear, implementable and decisive action" to address forced labour in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and combat the import of products connected to it. 

Labour concerns also featured more broadly across the agenda with the administration saying it would engage allies "to achieve commitments to fight forced labour and exploitative labour conditions and increase transparency and accountability in global supply chains."

"The President's trade agenda will be a critical component of the Biden Administration's plan to Build Back Better. Through a review of existing policies, negotiations of new standards, enforcement of our trade agreements, and partnership with our friends and allies, President Biden's trade agenda will support all workers, combat climate change, advance racial equity, increase supply chain resiliency, and expand market opportunities for American manufacturers, producers, farmers, fishers, and businesses of all sizes. The Biden Administration will prioritize trade policies that have tangible benefits for all working Americans, families, and communities."

Click here to access the '2021 Trade Policy Agenda and 2020 Annual Report' in full.