US detains goods from 5 countries for suspected forced labour

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is detaining clothing, gold, diamonds and other items believed to have been produced with forced labour by five companies based in Brazil, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malaysia and Zimbabwe.

An official at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Brenda Smith, says her agency issued orders to immediately detain the goods at U.S. ports of entry for further investigation. The move comes amid a wide-ranging trade dispute between the U.S. and China, which has led to new tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of goods.

Smith says the “message here is that one of the ways the U.S. and China can collaborate together is to ensure that forced labour is not used.”

She says the companies can re-export the detained shipments or submit information to show they’re legal.

The companies sanctioned are Bonechar Carvão Ativado Do Brasil Ltda; Hetian Taida Apparel Co., Ltd. in Xinjiang, China; WRP Asia Pacific Sdn. Bhd. in Malaysia; and Marange Diamond Fields in Zimbabwe. The action also covers gold mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Associated Press