CBP should issue region-wide ban on cotton imports from East Turkistan

December 14, 2020 5:30 PM EST
For Immediate Release
Contact: Omer Kanat +1 (202) 790-1795, Peter Irwin +1 (646) 906-7722

The Uyghur Human Rights Project renews its call for a region-wide ban on the import of cotton and cotton products from East Turkistan, following mounting evidence of Uyghur coerced and forced labor.

A report by the Center for Global Policy has uncovered further evidence illustrating the extent of forced labor affecting Uyghurs in East Tukistan, including the state’s labor transfer scheme that mobilizes hundreds of thousands of Uyghur and other Turkic peoples.

On December 2, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) applying to all cotton products produced by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) and its affiliated entities—effectively banning the import of cotton to the U.S. derived from the organization.

That action followed a July decision by the Treasury department to sanction the XPCC under the Global Magnitsky Act, and the Commerce department’s decision to ban exports to the organization responsible for 37 percent of the region’s cotton production and widespread rights abuses.

UHRP supports the report’s recommendation that CBP should issue a WRO on all cotton products from the entire Uyghur Region, considering the substantial risk that cotton products are produced using forced labour.

In August 2020, UHRP submitted a petition to CBP  urging the same approach, along with other members of the Steering Committee of the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region. The petition cited a wide array of evidence of widespread forced labour already in the public domain. Under U.S. law 19 U.S.C. §1307, it is illegal for the United States to allow entry of goods “produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in any foreign country by convict labour or/and forced labour or/and indentured labour.”

Likewise, global companies must conduct due diligence on their supply chains to ensure that any product made in whole or part with cotton from China is closely scrutinized.