WASHINGTON – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has initiated a significant communications outreach to trade stakeholders in the wake of the passage of the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (P.L. 115-44). That legislation contains a provision affecting the entry of merchandise with a nexus to North Korean nationals or citizens, and CBP is committed to ensuring that importers are aware of the risks associated with forced labor, their compliance responsibilities, and ways they can validate that their supply chains are free of forced labor.
Under the new law, passed on August 2, 2017, any significant merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part by North Korean nationals or citizens is prohibited from entry into the United States unless CBP finds through clear and convincing evidence that the merchandise was not produced with a form of prohibited labor. Where CBP finds such evidence of North Korean labor, CBP will deny entry, which may include seizure of the merchandise, and refer the issue to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with a request to initiate a criminal investigation for violation of U.S. law.
“CBP is committed to establishing a strong and effective interagency response to human trafficking and forced labor, and we are an active participant in the DHS led Forced Labor Interagency Work Group,” said Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. “CBP undertook a comprehensive review of our approach to exclude goods made with forced labor, consulting with numerous public and private sector stakeholders, resulting in a number of changes in our approach.”
CBP has engaged the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) Forced Labor Work Group and has acted on many of its recommendations. CBP also participates in civil society organizations dialogue to stay informed about stakeholder concerns and developments.
CBP reminds importers of their obligation to exercise reasonable care and take all necessary and appropriate steps to ensure that goods entering the United States comply with all laws and regulations, including 19 USC § 1307 and The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. To assist importers in understanding these obligations, CBP recently updated and published an Informed Compliance Publication, What Every Member of the Trade Community Should Know: Reasonable Care. This newly issued publication includes a section on Forced Labor and is published on CBP.gov. CBP has also published seven fact sheets on various topics related to forced labor, including Forced Labor – Importer Due Diligence. These are also posted on CBP.gov.
CBP is committed to preventing the importation of merchandise produced with forced labor or the labor of North Korean nationals or citizens anywhere in the world. CBP can take a variety of actions to combat the entry of such merchandise, including issuing a CBP summons or Request for Information, and, where appropriate, detaining, excluding, seizing, or withholding release of merchandise that violates of applicable laws and regulations.
CBP will continue to engage its interagency partners to assess how this change affects the supply chain risk associated with merchandise produced in any foreign location and imported or likely to be imported into the United States. CBP welcomes allegations on forced labor at its eAllegation portal, and parties who provide original information that leads to the recovery of any penalty, fine, or forfeiture of merchandise are eligible to seek compensation under 19 U.S.C. § 1619. Compensation may be up to $250,000.