Implementing an Effective Forced- Labor Compliance Program

By on March 26, 2019

Executive Summary of an article written by
Richard Mojica, Nathan Lankford and Nicole Gökçebay, Miller & Chevalier

Congress has amended Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 USC §1307) to close a loophole exempting products that were in short supply in the United States from the general prohibition on imports made by forced labor. As amended, the Act prohibits the importation of products made wholly or in part with convict labor, forced labor (including child labor) or indentured labor, with no exceptions.

In December 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a proposal to the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee to implement the forced labor provisions through trade compliance. CBP’s proposal sets out seven elements of an effective forced labor compliance program, as well as the evidence demonstrating implementation that Custom-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism members would be required to provide to CBP. For example, companies are expected to involve stakeholders and partners in methods of understanding the forced labor risks in their supply chains, as well as to establish a code of conduct for the company and the company’s partners.

This proposal provides a template for the broader universe of importers to take stock of their current forced labor compliance programs and be better prepared for potential CBP inquiries. In particular, an importer can compare its existing forced labor compliance efforts to the proposal’s elements and note where it is already meeting likely CBP expectations, and where it has further work to do. Companies should use it as guidance to keep pace with CBP’s forced labor compliance expectations.

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