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U.S. Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act

What Is the U.S. Trade Facilitation & Trade Enforcement Act?

The 2015 U.S. Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act seeks to prevent goods produced using forced labor from being imported into the United States. The Act amended Section 307 of the 1930 Tariff Act on forced labor. Prior to the amendment, the import ban was only enforced if the product was already available in the U.S. market in quantities high enough to meet consumptive demand. The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act closed this loophole. Today, all importing companies must conduct supply chain due diligence to prove to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) authorities their products were not made using forced labor.

What Obligations Do Companies Have Under the Act?

To ensure products can be imported into the U.S., companies should carry out due diligence to assess the risks in their supply chains. Specific risk factors may include the country of origin, type of product, related industry and more. In the event U.S. customs issues a ‘withhold release order’, companies have 90 days to prove the product was not mined, produced or manufactured using forced labor. To do so, companies must provide a certificate of origin signed by the foreign seller or owner of the article. In addition, they must provide proof that every effort was made to determine the type of labor used in the production of each component. The level of due diligence required to complete these steps is on par with many existing human trafficking and modern slavery regulations. Non-compliance with the regulation can result in import holds, potentially causing significant financial losses, operational setbacks and even brand damage.


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