Senators Call for Stricter Enforcement Against Forced Labor in Textile Imports

In a concerted effort to combat the import of clothing and textiles made with forced labor, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators, including Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), have urged U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to intensify oversight and enforcement measures.

The Senators addressed their concerns to Acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller, highlighting the necessity of enforcing the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). These agreements empower CBP to scrutinize supply chains of trading partners, including conducting factory audits and site visits.

Citing recent closures of U.S. textile and apparel mills, the Senators underscored the importance of stringent customs enforcement. They expressed worries that lax enforcement could allow the entry of banned products, like Xinjiang cotton, into regional supply chains, thereby contravening the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.

The group emphasized the U.S.'s significant role as a cotton producer and the urgency of supporting domestic industries. They called for CBP to adopt measures that are swift, stringent, and effectively counteract trade malpractices. These measures include increased on-site verifications, collaboration with regional customs authorities, enhanced targeting of illicit shipments, and a comprehensive review of enforcement authorities and penalties.

The Senators' proactive stance aims to ensure adherence to U.S. trade agreements and protect American jobs from the impacts of illegal trade practices. They have proposed a strategic plan outlining how CBP can leverage existing tools and resources to ensure compliance with CAFTA-DR, USMCA, and other pertinent trade regulations.