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The CBP issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) to each of the five companies on Sept. 30, according to a press release from Oct. 1.
“CBP is firmly committed to identifying and preventing products made with the use of forced labor from entering the stream of U.S. Commerce,” Brenda Smith, Executive Assistant Commissioner, CBP Office of Trade said in a statement.
“The effort put into investigating these producers highlights CBP’s priority attention on this issue. Our agency works tirelessly behind the scenes to investigate and gather information on forced labor in global supply chains,” Smith added.
The products under the WROs include garments from Hetian Taida Apparel Co., Ltd. in Xinjiang, China; disposable rubber gloves from WRP Asia Pacific Sdn. Bhd.'s Malaysia location; gold from artisanal small mines (ASM) in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo; rough diamonds from the Marange Diamond Fields in Zimbabwe; and bone black from Bonechar Carvão Ativado Do Brasil Ltda in Brazil.
However, Zimbabwe denounced the CBP's decision, calling the agency's suspicion "a shameless lie," Bloomberg reported.
"Invoking the repulsive prospect of alleged forced labor is a new nomenclature for seeking to bar Zimbabwe's diamonds from the international markets," Zimbabwe's government reportedly said in a statement. "This move constitutes a grave and serious attack on Zimbabwe's interests and is no less than a manifestation of undeclared sanctions."
“Under U.S. law, it is illegal to import goods into the U.S that are made wholly or in part by forced labor, which includes convict labor, indentured labor, and forced or indentured child labor,” the CBP said in its release.
Todd Owen, Executive Assistant Commissioner, CBP Office of Field Operations, said in a statement that the CBP works with a wide variety of sources to ensure companies are not using forced labor to make products being brought into the U.S.
“We encourage the trade community to know their supply chains to ensure goods imported into our country are not produced with forced labor,” Owen said.