WASHINGTON – U.S. Customs and Border Protection has modified a Withhold Release Order on imports of carpets and hand-knotted products from Nepal. Effective July 23, 2021, carpets and hand-knotted wool products produced by the Nepalese company Annapurna Carpet Industries Pvt. Ltd. (“Annapurna Carpet”) are admissible at all U.S. ports of entry.
“CBP’s thorough review of Annapurna Carpet’s business practices indicates that the company has remediated concerns about the use of forced labor in its production process and that its products may be imported into the United States,” said AnnMarie Highsmith, CBP Executive Assistant Commissioner for Trade. “CBP remains committed to eliminating forced labor from U.S. supply chains to protect vulnerable workers and ensure a level playing field for law-abiding businesses.”
CBP issued a Withhold Release Order in July 1998 to prevent the importation of carpets and hand-knotted wool products from seven Nepalese companies, including Annapurna Carpet. The Withhold Release Order was based on information reasonably indicating that those products were made with the use of forced labor.
CBP modified the Withhold Release Order after evaluating detailed information that Annapurna Carpet has addressed all eleven indicators of forced labor in the production of its carpets and hand-knotted wool products, which sufficiently shows that the company’s products are not made with the use of forced labor. These products may now be imported into the United States.
This is the second time CBP has modified the Withhold Release Order on carpets and hand-knotted wool products from Nepal. The agency first modified the Withhold Release Order in October 1998 to allow imports of carpets and hand-knotted wool products from three companies: Norsang Carpet Industries Pvt., Ltd., Everest Carpet, and K.K. Carpet Industries. The three entities fully addressed CBP’s concerns about the use of forced labor in their production processes.
The 1998 Withhold Release Order remains in effect for carpets and hand-knotted wool products made by Kumar Carpet Pvt., Singhe Carpet Pvt., and Valley Carpet. CBP will not modify or revoke a Withhold Release Order until the subject entities fully remediate all indicators of forced labor in their production process.
Federal statute 19 U.S.C. 1307 prohibits the importation of merchandise mined, manufactured or produced, wholly or in part, in a foreign country by forced labor, including convict labor and/or indentured labor under penal sanctions. When information reasonably but not conclusively indicates that merchandise within the purview of this provision is being imported, the Commissioner of CBP may issue a Withhold Release Order. Withhold Release Orders direct CBP personnel at U.S. ports of entry to detain shipments containing goods specified by the order.
CBP receives allegations of forced labor from a variety of sources, including the public. Any person or organization that has reason to believe merchandise produced with the use of forced labor is being, or likely to be, imported into the United States can report detailed allegations by contacting CBP through the e-Allegations Online Trade Violations Reporting System or by calling 1-800-BE-ALERT.
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