How Congress plans to ban goods produced by Uyghur forced labor

Congress eventually came to a compromise on a law to tackle China’s use of forced labor among the country’s Uyghur population. Tuesday, Sens. Marco rubioMarco Antonio RubioHow Congress Plans To Ban Goods Produced By Uyghur Forced Labor Rick Scott Says White House Hangs Up On Him The Hill’s Morning Report – Brought to you by Charter Communications – BBB on the Ropes MORE (R-Fla.) And Jeff merkleyJeff Merkley Senate confirms Rahm Emanuel to serve as ambassador to Japan (D-Ore.) With Representatives Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) And Chris smithChristopher (Chris) Henry Smith Democrats, Republicans call on Biden to support Tibet’s autonomy Lawmakers who opposed their parties on the infrastructure bill T House Democrats reintroduce the bill to empower the public sector unions PLUS (RN.J.) announced new bipartisan legislative language that reconciles parallel Senate and House proposals. With the White House signaling its willingness to enact the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Compromise Law (UFLPA), the Senate unanimously passed it on Thursday. Here are five key aspects of the bipartisan compromise:

Complicated background

There is general agreement that governments should not allow companies to import products made by victims of human trafficking into the United States, as it enriches the companies that profit from the exploitation and n do not improve the lives of victims of forced labor. Contaminated products are also in unfair competition with products produced by workers paid at market wages. UFLPA focuses on Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic minority in China’s Xinjiang region. Reports of human rights abuses, including forced labor, have complicated already thorny geopolitical concerns between China and the West.

Blocking imports from this region creates disruption in the supply chain and increases tensions between human rights, environmental and trade priorities. In this complicated context, it is worth noting the rare bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill around a major human rights concern.

Rebuttal of the presumption of forced labor

The heart of UFLPA is that it creates a presumption that all goods mined, produced or manufactured in whole or in part in Xinjiang are made with forced labor and therefore prohibited from entering the United States.

The presumption can be rebutted if a company can prove with “clear and convincing” evidence that the establishment in Xinjiang did not use forced labor. Many companies find it difficult to access the region and fear that it will be very difficult to meet the “clear and convincing” standard.

Additionally, the UFLPA requires the government to report to Congress whenever it finds sufficient evidence to rebut the presumption and allow goods from Xinjiang to enter the country. Some observers believe that this reporting requirement will have a chilling effect on entry decisions.

New sanctions

In addition to highlighting the existing ability to use the sanctions of the Global Magnitsky Law to combat forced labor, the UFLPA is also creating a separate sanctions regime via an amendment to the Uyghur Law on Human Rights Policy. of 2020. These new sanctions can apply to individuals, entities and Chinese. government officials responsible for serious human rights violations related to forced labor.

New national strategy and list of entities

Within 180 days of the UFLPA taking effect, the US government is to provide a “strategy” to Congress on how to deal with the importation of forced labor goods from Xinjiang.

This calendar represents a compromise between 300 days in the Senate version and 120 days in the House version of the bill.

The “strategy” document will follow a period of public comments and public hearings to gather recommendations from business leaders, advocates and the general public. The “strategy” should include a list of entities in Xinjiang that produce, transport or export goods made in whole or in part by victims of human trafficking.

Urgent action is imperative

With a current crescendo of supply chain disruption, businesses must act quickly to protect themselves from the risks associated with shipments of parts, products or products stranded at U.S. ports of entry due to forced labor. Now is the time for companies to review their current supply chains, contracts with Xinjiang-based entities, as well as compliance procedures related to human rights violations. Early action will allow business continuity as these new legal tools are used to help victims of forced labor find freedom.

John Cotton Richmond is a Dentons partner and former United States Goodwill Ambassador to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking.

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