WASHINGTON — U.S. Customs and Border Protection today modified its formal Finding in the Customs Bulletin and in the Federal Register pursuant to 19 C.F.R. §12.42(g) based on satisfactory evidence that Sime Darby Plantation Berhad, its subsidiaries, and joint ventures no longer produce palm oil and its derivative products using forced labor.
Effective immediately, the U.S. will allow shipments containing Sime Darby-produced palm oil and derivatives to enter the U.S. commerce, provided the imports are otherwise in compliance with U.S. law.
“We see every modification as a tremendous success,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller. “Our mandate as an agency is to prohibit forced labor from entering the U.S. commerce. In the best-case scenario, our enforcement affects the remediation of forced labor to help improve living and working conditions for workers around the world, just as it did in this case. Actions like this ensure that the goods that make their way into the United States are ethically sourced while protecting American businesses from unfair economic trade practices.”
On January 28, 2022, CBP published a Finding in the Federal Register against palm oil and its derivative products produced by Sime Darby, its subsidiaries, and joint ventures. CBP instructed its personnel to begin seizing such shipments of palm oil and its derivative products due to information indicating that Sime Darby used forced labor to produce them.
The Finding expanded upon a Withhold Release Order (WRO) that CBP issued on December 30, 2020. The WRO was based on reasonable, but not conclusive information, that forced labor was being used in Sime Darby’s production process and that such products were being, or likely to be, imported into the U.S.
19 U.S.C. § 1307 prohibits the importation 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 … includ[ing] forced or indentured child labor.” When CBP has information reasonably indicating that imported goods are made by forced labor, the agency will order personnel at U.S. ports of entry to detain shipments of those goods. Such detained shipments will be excluded and subject to seizure and forfeiture if the importer fails to demonstrate proof of admissibility, in accordance with 19 C.F.R §12.43, or export the shipment.
If CBP has evidence sufficient to determine that goods are subject to the provisions of 19 U.S.C. § 1307 (i.e., were produced using forced labor and are being, or are likely to be, imported to the U.S.), the agency will publish a Finding to that effect in the Federal Register, pursuant to 19 C.F.R. §12.42(f). CBP seizes shipments subject to Findings unless the importer can prove to CBP’s satisfaction that, per 19 C.F.R §12.43, the merchandise is admissible.
CBP has established a process through which interested parties may request the modification or revocation of a Withhold Release Order 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 Withhold Release Orders or Findings until the agency has evidence demonstrating that the subject merchandise is no longer produced, manufactured, or mined using forced labor.
Notice of the modification of the forced labor Finding on Sime Darby is available in the Federal Register and in the Customs Bulletin.
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