US Bans Textile Imports from 26 Chinese Companies Linked to Forced Labor

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The United States on Thursday (16/5) said it was blocking imports from dozens of textile companies based in China, due to issues of forced labor related to their products.

Of the total of 26 companies included in the entity list in the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, 21 companies are believed to buy and sell cotton from the Xinjiang region, northwest China, in the wholesale market. Five other companies are also known to buy cotton from the region.

The targets of the blockade include cotton traders and storage warehouses in China, most of which operate outside Xinjiang.

Researchers show off smart textile transparencies, which integrate Polymer Optical Fiber (POF), a material commonly found in the medical and automotive industries, with thread, in their laboratory, in Hong Kong, China, 5 June 2023.

Beijing is accused of detaining more than a million Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups in a series of detention centers in Xinjiang, although its officials deny the accusations.

The Uighur Forced Labor Prevention Act prohibits the import of all goods from Xinjiang, unless companies can provide verifiable evidence that their production activities do not involve forced labor.

“We will continue to implement law enforcement strategies (in the) textile industry and hold the PRC (People’s Republic of China) accountable for their exploitation and oppression of the Uighur people,” said US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

The announcement extends the list of entities covered by the law, and the additions went into effect on Friday, according to the US Department of Homeland Security.

“Chinese cotton resulting from forced labor in Xinjiang is flooding global markets and entering the US market as a downstream product,” said Kim Glas, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations.

Glas also added that this harms US domestic producers, and that the addition of the entity list “sends a strong message to violators, companies and governments concerned” that Washington is stepping up enforcement on the issue.

Since the Uighur Forced Labor Prevention Act was passed in late 2021, 65 entities have been added to the list. The list also includes other sectors, such as apparel, polysilicon, batteries and electronic products.