The US Customs and Border Patrol has blocked nearly USD 500 million worth of imports from entering American ports this year as it was made "wholly or in part" by Uyghur forced labour, the US agency's acting head made the announcement in an event in Washington on Tuesday, Radio Free Asia reported.
The decision comes as more Western governments are taking action against companies whose products and supply chains involve forced labour by the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, as per the news report.
In an event at the Forced Labour Technical Expo at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Troy Miller launched a website that keeps a track of shipments blocked due to forced labour. Miller said that 3,605 shipments worth USD 816 million had been blocked due to suspected forced labour across all of last year, as per the Radio Free Asia report.
Troy Miller stressed that the value of blocked shipments this year had already reached nearly two-thirds of last year's figure, with some USD 496 million worth of imports across 1,910 shipments blocked before February 26 due to December 2021 Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.
"That being said, shipments identified for further examination under UFLPA represent 0.01% of all shipments entering the U.S. since the implementation of the act," Radio Free Asia quoted Troy Miller as saying.
"Overall, this obviously a very small number of shipments subject to CBP's enforcement actions," he added. US Customs and Border Patrol's acting head said that he wished to see the number of intercepted shipments reduced as US businesses learn they risk losing their shipments.
"As required by law, we continue to take enforcement action to inspect and detain goods when we receive credible allegations that goods are connected to Xinjiang," he said as per the Radio Free Asia report, but "importers must take responsibility to know their supply chains and address the risk of forced labour."
A number of companies at the event promoted technology they stressed would help businesses better identify forced labour in their supply chains. Speaking at the event, Nury Turkel, an Uyghur American and chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom said that he grew up along with his parents in forced labour camps in China's Xinjiang.
Turkel said that he was dismayed by American companies that say it is hard to police supply chains. According to a Radio Free Asia report, he said, "Papering over forced labour in your supply chains is no longer an option." (ANI)