The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at all US ports will detain raw sugar and sugar-based products produced in the Dominican Republic by one company operating in the region.
CBP issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) against the company based on information which indicates the use of forced labour in its operations. CBP has identified five of the 11 indicators of forced labour including withholding of wages, living conditions and excessive overtime.
“This Withhold Release Order demonstrates CBP’s commitment to protect human rights and international labor standards and to promote a fair and competitive global marketplace,” explained Troy Miller, Acting Commissioner at CBP. “The agency will continue to set a high global standard by aggressively investigating allegations of forced labor in US supply chains and keeping tainted merchandise out of the United States.”
In a September 2022 report released by the International Labour Organization, it estimates that nearly 28 million workers suffer under conditions of forced labour worldwide. Companies exploit forced labour to sell goods below market value as well as hurts law-abiding businesses, threatens jobs and exposes customers to unknowingly supporting unethical business practices.
“CBP continues to set the international standard for ensuring that goods made with forced labor do not enter U.S. commerce,” said AnnMarie R. Highsmith, Executive Assistant Commissioner, CBP Office of Trade. “Manufacturers who fail to abide by our laws, will face consequences as we root out these inhumane practices from US. supply chains.”
The WRO on the company is the latest action the US has taken to address forced labour and other human rights abuses around the world. In September 2022, the US Departmentof Labor identified sugar cane from the Dominican Republic in its List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. With the addition of this WRO, the CPB now oversees the enforcement of 55 WROs and 9 Findings.
Federal statute prohibits the importation of merchandise produced by convict labour, forced labour and/or indentured labour. CBP detains shipments of goods which are suspected of being imported in violation of this statute. Importers of these detained shipments can export the shipments or demonstrate that the merchandise was not made from forced labour.
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