Smart Glove’s Elimination of Forced Labor from Their Supply Chain Demonstrates CBP’s Enforcement Success
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) modified import restrictions issued in a Withhold Release Order (WRO) against a group of companies jointly known as Smart Glove, in response to the companies’ successful demonstration that their products are no longer produced in whole or in part with forced labor. Effective immediately, CBP will allow Smart Glove shipments to enter U.S. commerce, provided the imports are otherwise in compliance with U.S. laws.
This is the third WRO modification that CBP has issued in 2023. Over the past three years, CBP’s forced labor enforcement efforts have resulted in the improvement of living and working conditions for tens of thousands of workers, including the repayment of more than $50 million in withheld wages and recruitment fees that were used to trap workers in debt bondage.
“The Department of Homeland Security’s relentless enforcement efforts to prevent goods produced with forced labor from entering the United States are changing companies’ behavior, resulting in the elimination of forced labor from supply chains,” said U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “Today’s modification of the withhold release order against Smart Glove proves that our enforcement efforts are driving responsible corporate citizenship and significant changes in corporate behavior, and that we will recognize those changes when they are instituted. Our efforts are driven by the core principle that every worker around the world deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”
In November 2021, CBP issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) against disposable gloves produced in Malaysia by a group of companies including Smart Glove Corporation Sdn Bhd, GX Corporation Sdn Bhd, GX3 Specialty Plant, Sigma Glove Industries, and Platinum Glove Industries Sdn Bhd, (jointly, “Smart Glove”), based on information that reasonably indicated their production facilities utilized forced labor.
In response to the implementation of that WRO, Smart Glove has taken various measures to address the indicators of forced labor that prompted the WRO, to ensure that it is not utilizing forced labor throughout its supply chain. Smart Glove’s remediation efforts included repayment of recruitment fees, improvements to living conditions, and implementation of new worker-centered policies and procedures. CBP has determined the conditions of forced labor identified in the WRO have been remediated. Accordingly, the WRO has been modified and shipments of Smart Glove’s synthetic gloves received on or after April 26, 2023 will no longer be detained at U.S. ports of entry.
In addition to proving that CBP enforcement measures drive remediation and the elimination of forced labor from the supply chain, today’s announcement also reflects CBP’s commitment to working with foreign manufacturers and international supply chain stakeholders to achieve positive outcomes for workers trapped by forced labor across the globe.
“We are witnessing a shift in behavior from importers and businesses as they identify and eliminate forced labor from their supply chains so that they can do business in the U.S., which ensures our economic security and enhances protections against forced labor,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller. “CBP is proud to be a part of this positive change that directly impacts so many lives abroad and ensures fair competition for law-abiding American entrepreneurs and companies.”
19 U.S.C. § 1307 prohibits the importation into the U.S. of “[a]ll goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in any foreign country by convict labor or/and forced labor, or/and indentured labor, including forced or indentured child labor[.]” When CBP has information reasonably indicating that imported goods are made with forced labor, the agency will order personnel at U.S. ports of entry to detain shipments of those goods. Such shipments will be excluded and subject to seizure and forfeiture if the importer fails to demonstrate proof of admissibility, in accordance with 19 CFR §12.43 or export the shipment.
CBP has established a process through which interested parties may request the modification or revocation of a WRO or Finding. The required evidence and timeline for modification or revocation may vary depending upon the specific circumstances of each individual case. CBP does not modify a WRO or Finding until the agency has evidence demonstrating that the subject merchandise is no longer produced, manufactured, or mined using forced labor.