December 7, 2020
U.S. Bans Cotton Imports From China Producer XPCC Citing ‘Slave Labour’
The Trump administration expanded economic pressure on China’s western region of Xinjiang, banning cotton imports from a powerful Chinese organization that it says uses the forced labour of detained Uighur Muslims.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency says its “Withhold Release Order” would ban cotton and cotton products from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), one of China’s largest producers.
The ban against XPCC, which produced 30% of China’s cotton in 2015, could have a sweeping effect on companies globally involved in selling textiles and apparel to the United States.
It follows a Treasury Department ban in July on all dollar transactions with the sprawling business-and-paramilitary entity, founded in 1954 to settle China’s far west.
The United Nations cites what it says are credible reports that 1 million Muslims held in camps have been put to work. China denies mistreating Uighurs and says the camps are vocational training centres needed to fight extremism.
While the Treasury sanctions target XPCC’s financial structure, Wednesday’s action will force apparel firms and other companies shipping cotton products to the United States to eliminate XPCC-produced cotton fiber from many stages of their supply chains, said Brenda Smith, CBP’s executive assistant commissioner for trade.
Identifying cotton from a specific supplier will sharply raise manufacturing costs, and only the few large companies with fully integrated operations across the complex textile supply chain could guarantee that no XPCC product has been used, the trader said.