Forced Labor and Informed Compliance

Have you taken reliable measures to ensure imported goods are not produced wholly or in part with convict labor, forced labor, and/or indentured labor (including forced or indentured child labor)?

Informed Compliance Publication (ICP) – “Reasonable Care”

This is the basic question CBP asks in the revised version of their ICP on Reasonable Care – a revision brought about by the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (TFTEA).

Every importer needs to be able to answer this question in the affirmative, demonstrating that they have exercised reasonable care in making sure their supply chain is free from abusive labor practices.

Below we will look at:

  • the definition of forced labor
  • the consequences of failing to comply with proper procedures
  • what importers can take initiative to do about abusive labor practices

What is forced labor?

Forced labor, as herein used, shall mean all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty for its nonperformance and for which the worker does not offer himself voluntarily. For purposes of this section, the term “forced labor or/and indentured labor” includes forced or indentured child labor.

Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. § 1307)

The responsibility to prevent abusive labor practices extends beyond manufacturers and suppliers to importers, as importing merchandise that is “mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in any foreign country by convict labor or/and forced labor or/and indentured labor under penal sanctions” is illegal per 19 U.S. Code § 1307.

What happens if you import goods produced through forced labor?

Goods imported into the U.S. that are “mined, produced, or manufactured” through forced labor may:

  • be denied entry
  • be seized by U.S. Customs
  • lead to criminal investigation of the importer(s)

What are importers supposed to do?

Importers should review their procedures to help combat these abusive practices.

Here are a few ideas:

1. C J International recommends all importers require a specific statement from their suppliers that they do not use any form of forced labor and they do not conduct business, anywhere in their supply chain, with anyone or any company that utilizes forced labor.

2. Reference CBP’s list of Withhold Release Orders (WRO’s)

  • In 2018, CBP established a division to lead the enforcement of the prohibition on the imports made with forced labor. Shortly thereafter, they began issuing Withhold Release Orders. WROs target products, countries, regions, and certain manufacturers.

3. Consult CBP’s website for detailed information on forced labor and what you can do as part of your due diligence in the importing process:

If you have any questions, feel free to contact C J International’s Compliance Officer: Samya Murray, LCB, CCS (

Our blog posts are for informational purposes only. While we use reasonable efforts to furnish accurate information, C J is not liable or responsible for the accuracy or reliability of any information contained herein.


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