Combating Forced Labor: The Increased Use of Withhold Release Orders and Formal Findings

As has been described in previous Jones Day White Papers, the global problem of human trafficking—and the goal to eradicate it—profoundly affects corporate entities with global supply chains. This is particularly true for corporate entities that import goods into the United States, as it has long been the case that goods made with forced labor are not entitled to entry or importation. The United States Customs and Border Protection may use Withhold Release Orders (WROs), or formal findings, to enforce this prohibition. As indicated by the recent increase in the number of WROs issued, and statements made by various governmental agencies, imported goods are being more heavily scrutinized for evidence that forced labor was present in their supply chain, and the issuance of WROs and formal findings will likely be used more frequently than has been seen historically. If an importer is issued a WRO, or a formal finding, the goods will be denied entry or seized until the importer is able to affirmatively show that the goods were not, in fact, produced with forced labor. Companies should consult with counsel and labor experts to ensure compliance with best practices and relevant laws.

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