Press Conference with CBP Office of Trade


I LEAD CBP’S TRADE MISSION
FOCUSED ON PROTECTING CONSUMERS, ENSURING A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
FOR U.S. BUSINESSES, AND REDUCING SUPPLY CHAIN COSTS. ALL
WHILE PARTS OF CBP’S NATIONAL SECURITY INITIATIVES. THIS
MORNING I’M PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THE ISSUANCE OF FIVE WITHHOLD
RELEASE ORDERS, AS PART OF OUR INVESTIGATION CONDUCTED BY THE
FORCED LABOR DIVISION, IN CONJUNCTION WITH OUR PARTNERS IN
THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTOR. FOURTH LABOR DIVISION AS PART OF
CBP’S LARGER TRADE ENFORCEMENT MISSION, OTHER ENFORCEMENT
PARTIES INCLUDE CBP’S PRIORITY TRADING INITIATIVES SUCH AS
AGRICULTURAL QUOTA, ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY, IMPORT
SAFETY, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS, REVENUE, TEXTILES AND
WEARING APPAREL AND TRADE AGREEMENTS. CBP IS RESPONSIBLE
FOR ENFORCING NEARLY 500 U.S. LAWS ON BEHALF OF 47 GOVERNMENT
AGENCIES. WE REMAIN THE SECOND-LARGEST REVENUE COLLECTOR
FOR THE U.S. GOVERNMENT. LAST YEAR WE COLLECTED APPROXIMATELY
$52 BILLION IN DUTIES TAXES AND FEES. WE FACILITATE COMPLIANT TRAY,
PROTECTS THE US ECONOMY AND CONSUMERS FROM HARMFUL HARMFUL
TRADE PRACTICES. WE ENFORCE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LOSS. LAST
YEAR WE SEIZED NEARLY 34,000 SHIPMENTS WITH HIGH PR
VIOLATIONS AT A TOTAL VALUE OF $1.4 BILLION HAVE THE PRODUCTS
BEEN GENUINE. WE ENFORCE 14 FREE-TRADE AGREEMENTS WITH 20
COUNTRIES, WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ENFORCING THE PRESIDENT’S
TRADE REMEDIES INCLUDING NEW TARIFFS AND QUOTAS. WE COLLECT
ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTIES, AND LAST YEAR TO THE
TUNE OF APPROXIMATELY $24.2 BILLION WORTH OF GOODS, AND A
TOTAL OF 400 94 ANTI-DUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY ORDERS.
CONSIST BACKDROP WE HAVE BEEN INVESTIGATING A NUMBER OF
POTENTIAL INSTANCES OF FORCED LABOR AND SUPPLY CHAINS USED IN
MAKING GOODS HEADED TOWARD THE U.S. ACCORDING TO THE
INTERNATIONAL LABOR ORGANIZATION OVER 24 MILLION PEOPLE ARE
VICTIMS OF FORCED LABOR ACROSS THE WORLD. TRAPPED IN JOBS IN
WHICH THEY WERE COURSED WERE DECEIVED INTO IN WHICH THEY
CANNOT LEAVE. FORCED LABOR IS AN IMPORTANT PRIORITY FOR CUSTOMS
AND BORDER PROTECTION. THE U.S. SHOULD NOT HAVE TO COMPETE WITH
OTHER COUNTRIES THAT FAIL TO PLAY BY THE RULES. AND SEEK AN
UNFAIR ADVANTAGE BY TURNING A BLIND EYE TO LABOR ABUSES. TRADE
BETWEEN NATIONS SHOULD BE FAIR AND PROFIT SHOULD NOT COUNT ON
THE BACKS OF CHILDREN, SLAVES, OR THOSE OTHERWISE FORCED TO
WORK. THE COST OF CHILD LABOR AND
FORCED LABOR IS SIMPLY TOO HIGH. IT PRESENTS A UNIQUE PROBLEM SET
FOR CBP AND ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED IN PROTECTING LABOR.
CANDIDLY IT IS ONE OF OUR MOST CHALLENGING TRADE ENFORCEMENT
ISSUES. FORCED LABOR CAN BE DIFFICULT TO DETECT, BECAUSE
ALTHOUGH IT IS OUTLAWED, AND NOT CONDONED IN MANY PARTS OF THE
WORLD, IT STILL OCCURS IN THE SHADOWS AND GOES UNDETECTED.
THOSE AFFECTED ARE OFTEN AFRAID TO COME FORWARD AND PERPETRATORS
BENEFIT FROM THEIR SILENCE. MERCHANDISE PRODUCED WITH FORCED
LABOR IS ALSO DIFFICULT TO TRACE THE LONG MULTITIERED OPAQUE
SUPPLY [email protected], WHEN INFORMATION REASONABLY BUT
NOT CONCLUSIVELY INDICATES THAT MERCHANDISE PRODUCED BY FORCED
LABOR IS BEING OR IS LIKELY TO BE IMPORTED INTO THE UNITED
STATES … OUR MESSAGE HERE IS CLEAR. IF YOU ARE A TRADING
PARTNER THAT DOES NOT ABIDE BY AND UPHOLD YOUR COMMITMENT TO
END CHILD OR FORCED LABOR, THE U.S. WILL DO WHAT IT TAKES TO
PROTECT VULNERABLE WORKERS FROM EXPLOITATION TO SAFEGUARD AMERICAN JOBS, AND
CREATE A FAIR AND LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. THE PROHIBITION AGAINST FORCED
LABOR HAS BEEN AROUND SINCE THE TRADE ACT OF 1930. IN THE TRADE
FACILITATION ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 2015 SHARPEN THEIR ABILITY TO
PROHIBIT THESE GOODS FROM ENTERING THE COUNTRY. SHIPMENTS
OF MERCHANDISE SUBJECT TO A WITHHOLD RELEASE ORDER WILL BE
DETAINED. IMPORTERS HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO EITHER WE EXPORT
THE DETAIN SHIPMENT AT ANY TIME, OR TO SUBMIT INFORMATION TO CBP
DEMONSTRATING THAT THE GOODS ARE NOT IN VIOLATION OF OUR LAW.
I WOULD LIKE TO GIVE YOU MORE DETAIL ON THE SPECIFIC WITHHOLD
RELEASE ORDERS WE HAVE ISSUED TODAY. THE FIRST TARGETS
GARMENTS PRODUCE BY AN APPAREL COMPANY, IN CHINA. WITHOUT
EVIDENCE OF FORCED WORK, EXCESSIVE HOURS, ISOLATION,
ABUSE OF VULNERABILITY, LITTLE OR NO PAYMENT, RESTRICTION OF
MOVEMENT, AND PHYSICAL AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE. THE SECOND IS
TARGETED AT DISPOSABLE DISPOSABLE RUBBER GLOVES
PRODUCED IN MALAYSIA BY DEBBIE RP ASIA SPECIFIC. WITHOUT EVIDENCE OF MULTIPLE
INDICATORS OF FORCED LABOR. ASIA-PACIFIC EXPORTED
APPROXIMATELY $79.5 BILLION LAST YEAR IN DISPOSABLE RUBBER GLOVES
TO THE U.S. THE THIRD ORDER IS TARGETED AT NRTS THE SMALL MINDS IN THE
EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO. THE MOST PREVALENT
INDICATOR OF FORCED LABOR IS THE PRESENCE OF ARMED FORCES AT THE
MINE. WHICH ALIGNS WITH THE INTERNATIONAL LABOR
ORGANIZATIONS LABOR INDICATOR OF INTIMIDATION AND RESTRICTION OF
MOVEMENT. REPORTING INDICATES THAT BETWEEN 67 AND 77% OF THE
MINDS HAVE ARMED FORCES PRESENT. THERE IS ALSO EVIDENCE OF
BONDAGE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE OCCURRING IN THE MINDS. AS OF
2015 THERE WERE MORE 800 CONFIRMED ACTIVE SMALL MINDS
BETWEEN THE PROVINCES OF NORTH KIEBOOM IN SOUTH KIEBOOM. WITH
1574 CONFIRMED MINDS THROUGHOUT. THE FOURTH WITHHOLD RELEASE
ORDER IS TARGETING OUR SEASONAL DIAMONDS FROM THE DIAMOND FIELDS
IN ZIMBABWE. INSTANCES OF FORCED LABOR HAVE BEEN WELL DOCUMENTED
IN POLICE, MILITARY AND OTHER SECURITY OFFICERS IN CHARGE
REGARDING THE MINDS FORM ILLEGAL MINING SYNDICATES WHERE THEY
ALLOW PARTIES OH MINORS ACCESS TO FIELDS IN EXCHANGE FOR BRIBES
AND A SHARE OF THE FIND. ONCE THEY ENTER INTO THE SYNDICATES,
OUR SEASONAL MINORS ARE FORCED TO STAY IN THEM, AND THOSE WHO
RESIST HAVE BEEN PUNISHED WITH PHYSICAL VIOLENCE, SEXUAL
VIOLENCE, OR OTHER FORMS OF PUNISHMENT SUCH AS ARREST FOR
TRESPASSING. OUR FINAL ORDER TARGETS , BONE BLACK. BONE BLACK IS CARBON THAT IS
MADE FROM CRUSHED CATTLE BONES THAT ARE HEATED TO HIGH
TEMPERATURES AND GROUND TO A POWDER. IT IS THEN USED IN WATER
FILTRATION AND SUGAR REFINING. INDICATORS OF FORCED LABOR
INCLUDE ABUSE OF LIVING AND WORKING CONDITIONS. RESTRICTION
OF MOVEMENT, ISOLATION, AND DEBT BONDAGE. I WANT TO THANK THE VERY
TALENTED AND HARD-WORKING TEAM THAT INVESTIGATED THE
CIRCUMSTANCES AROUND THE ALLEGATIONS AND WORK TO ISSUE
THESE WITHHOLD RELEASE ORDERS. AS WELL AS THOSE WHO WORK EVERY
DAY TO FACILITATE . IT IS MY HOPE THAT BY
CONDUCTING THOROUGH INVESTIGATIONS, ENFORCING OUR
LAWS, AND ISSUING WITHHOLD RELEASE ORDERS, DO WE SEND A
CLEAR MESSAGE THAT CBP IS DILIGENT IN TARGETING AND
PREVENTING GOODS MADE WITH FORCED LABOR FROM ENTERING OUR
MARKETS. CBP ENCOURAGES STAKEHOLDERS IN THE TRADE
COMMUNITY TO CLOSELY EXAMINE THEIR SUPPLY CHAINS, IN ALL
TIERS. TO ENSURE THAT GOOD PLAYER IMPORTING ARE NOT
PRODUCED WHOLLY OR IN PART WITH PROHIBITIVE FORMS OF LABOR. BY
WORKING WITH OUR PARTNERS IN THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTOR, CAN
ENSURE THAT WE FACILITATE LEGITIMATE TRADE AND PROTECT
AMERICAN BUSINESSES AND CONSUMERS. THANK YOU VERY
MUCH I’M HAPPY TO TAKE ANY QUESTIONS. ‘S
>>Reporter: HOW IS THAT INITIALLY FLAT? IN CHINA? [
INAUDIBLE QUESTION ] WILL IT AFFECT TRADE RELATIONS AT ALL?
SUSPECT I WOULD START BY SAYING OUR JOB AS DIRECTED BY CONGRESS
IS TO ENFORCE THE LAW. WE ARE ACTIVELY PAGED IN OUR
INVESTIGATION WORK AND VERY INTERESTED IN THE RESULTS. HAS
BEEN A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF PRESSURE PRESS REPORTING ABOUT
CONDITIONS IN THE PROVINCE. ONE OF THOSE ALLEGATIONS IN
PARTICULAR HAD VERY GOOD INFORMATION ABOUT THE SPECIFICS
LIGHT SUPPLY CHAIN. OUR CHALLENGE OFTEN CAN BE LINKING A
GENERAL CIRCUMSTANCE OF FORCED LABOR WITH SPECIFIC IMPORTS
COMING TO THE U.S. IN THIS CASE, WITH THE SPORTSWEAR, WE WERE
ABLE TO MAKE THAT CONNECTION. SUSPECT IS A COMPLICATED BROADER
TRADE DISCUSSIONS WITH CHINA? >>WE APPROACH THIS VERY
CAREFULLY. IN OUR MESSAGE HERE IS THAT ONE OF THE WAYS THE U.S.
AND CHINA CAN COLLABORATE TOGETHER IS TO ENSURE THAT
FORCED LABOR ARE NOT USED IN THESE PROJECTS.
>>Reporter: CAN YOU GIVE US MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE
MONETARY VALUE OF THE IMPORTS,>>IN MANY CASES THERE IS NOT A GREAT DEAL OF
ACTIVITY AND CERTAINLY NOT ACTIVITY THAT IS IDENTIFIED AS
GOLD FOR EXAMPLE OR DIAMONDS. OFTEN THOSE PRODUCTS ARE SENT
ELSEWHERE FOR FURTHER PROCESSING . PART OF OUR CHALLENGE IS
FINDING THEM AS THEY COME INTO THE UNITED STATES. LEGITIMATE
VALUES ARE RELATIVELY LOW. ARE THERE ANY QUESTIONS ONLINE
OR ON THE PHONE? >>HI CAN YOU HEAR ME? CAN YOU
HEAR ME? >>YES, SORRY. IF YOU CAN SPEAK
JUST A LITTLE LOUDER. >>THIS IS FROM THE NEW YORK
TIMES. I WONDER IF YOU COULD REITERATE A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE
PRODUCTS THAT WERE FOUND, YOU SAID IT WAS BETTER SPORTSWEAR?
CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE CONDITIONS HE FOUND THERE?
>>I SHOULD CLARIFY. THE COMPANY WE ARE ACTUALLY TARGETING IS AN
APPAREL COMPANY IN CHIN JOHN. WE FOUND EVIDENCE OF FORCED WORK,
EXCESSIVE HOURS, ISOLATION, LITTLE OR NO PAYMENT, AND
RESTRICTED MOVEMENT ALONG WITH PHYSICAL AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE. AS
YOU MAY KNOW, THOSE INDICATORS ARE LAID OUT BY THE
INTERNATIONAL LABOR ORGANIZATION. AND WE TRACKED
FAIRLY CLOSELY TO THE FRAMEWORK THAT THE ILO HAS USERS TO ASSESS
INDECISION INCIDENTS OF FORCED LABOR.>>WILL YOU BE PUTTING OUT A
REPORT WITH THIS INFORMATION? >>WE WILL PUT OUT A PRESS
RELEASE WITH MOST OF THE DETAILS I JUST WALKED THROUGH. QUESTIONS? THE PROCESSES, ONCE THE
COMMISSIONER OR HIS DELEGATE IN THIS CASE ME SIGNS OFF ON THE
WITHHOLD RELEASE ORDER, THAT RESULTS IN GUIDANCE GOING OUT TO
OUR PORTS OF ENTRY. AS SHIPMENTS COME INTO THE U.S., WE WILL FLAG
THEM FOR INSPECTION TO CONFIRM THEY ARE WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THE
WITHHOLD RELEASE ORDER. THAT ORDER THEN DIRECTS THE PORTS OF
ENTRY TO DETAIN THOSE GOODS, FOR FURTHER INVESTIGATION. ALL RIGHT. THANK YOU VERY MUCH
FOR YOUR ATTENTION. AND WE WOULD BE HAPPY TO HAVE FURTHER
DISCUSSIONS. I APPRECIATE YOUR ATTENTION TODAY. WE ARE VERY
PLEASED TO HAVE ISSUED FIVE WITHHOLD RELEASE ORDERS.

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