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  4. CBP International Trade Analyst Fights Forced Labor

CBP International Trade Analyst Fights Forced Labor

Release Date
Thu, 01/25/2024

Nancy Wang is an International Trade Analyst with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Trade. Originally from Taiwan, she majored in foreign language during her undergraduate studies. On her path to becoming an educator, she learned English and Japanese with the goal of becoming a teacher. After she came to the U.S. to earn her master’s degree, Wang’s first teaching position was in Seattle at a Japanese school. It only took her one year to realize this was not the end of her journey to a fulfilling career, so she decided to earn a second masters, this time studying law at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

Wang enrolled in a course focused on U.S. customs and trade and learned about CBP for the first time. Her professor was an attorney with CBP, and he encouraged her to explore the opportunities there as he taught about counterfeit goods and how CBP works to prevent them from entering the country. Her first role after completing her law degree was as a paralegal with the Small Business Administration. She remained there for a year before joining the Forced Labor Division of the CBP’s Office of Trade. 

International Trade Analyst Nancy Wang
International Trade Analyst Nancy Wang

CBP’s forced labor enforcement mission supports ethical and humane trade while leveling the playing field for U.S. companies that respect fair labor standards. CBP is the only U.S. government agency, and one of the few in the world, with the legal authority to take enforcement action against goods produced with forced labor to prevent entry into domestic commerce. 

As an International Trade Analyst, Wang investigates foreign manufacturing facilities suspected of producing goods with forced labor which can include that of trafficked individuals, child labor, and even prison labor. The team relies on information from external stakeholders and other federal agencies, such as the Departments of Labor and State in addition to its own research. They then process the “tips” or information to gather intake details and begin to investigate the case. They determine if the issue is facility-based or regional, where it could be a potentially countrywide problem according to specific U.S. laws and regulations against forced labor.

Her investigations occur here in the U.S., while allegers such as partner agencies and civil society organizations gather evidence from possible victims and witnesses all over the world. She and other International Trade Analysts search for facts and verify allegations as they build their cases. When asked what she enjoys most about her job, Wang said she likes looking for the clues leading to facts as she seeks to determine whether tips are valid or unfounded. She loves the ability to apply her language skills - in her native Mandarin, as well as Japanese and English - as she works through her case load. From legal documents to interview transcripts, her multilingual abilities are invaluable as the victims rarely speak English. 
Each country she investigates is unique and Wang says each one requires its own methodology. “You cannot apply the same strategy to different countries. You must prepare yourself to adapt to the changes and you must be more flexible.”
In her free time, she enjoys crafting which ties directly to her workplace initiatives to put pieces together and investigate closely in order help people. Just as in her investigations, there is a careful methodology to the things she creates. She collects, creates, and puts the puzzles together. 

Wang says the most challenging part of her job is when she must suspend a case for lack of detail or evidence. It is not a total loss for her though, Wang reflected, “I believe that even when I do not have enough information, I must hold the case. I believe that this information will be useful for my future cases.”

Patience is what she reveals to be her greatest strength. “I like to make crafts and you know, when you are crafting, you don't really finish in one day,” she continued, “I feel like when doing this job, it trains my patience. You want to get information and you are not really utilizing all of it right away. You must filter some, and you need to get more, collect more, and then analyze and verify it.” 

When speaking on some of the difficulties of her role, Wang said, “When investigating, sometimes I feel like I don't have enough information.” Hope propels her forward, she reflected, “When I finish the case, I hope these workers will no longer be in a forced labor situation. It motivates me to not give up.” She says that while she can be sympathetic to their conditions, she must also remain critical and search for verifiable facts as she balances her empathy and the legal standards to enforce the laws. 

When asked what traits someone wanting to join her team should bring to the table, she said they must be creative, critical, patient, and proactive. She said, “You must be proactive. You can’t let yourself be passive, the evidence will not come to you. But also, you must know when to stop. Because there are some people that would just dig and dig forever like down to a rabbit hole, but this is an investigation.”

Learn more about CBP’s forced labor enforcement mission and what you can do to help put an end to this atrocious practice. Interested in joining the Office of Trade team? Every day, the men and women who support the trade mission of CBP facilitate the flow of legitimate trade, enforce U.S. trade laws and regulations and protect the economy and the public from unsafe and unfair import practices. Help us create a fair, competitive, and safe trade environment, and enforce U.S. trade laws to protect national economic security. Apply Today!

Last Modified: Jan 25, 2024