Senate Passes Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, banning imports from Xinjiang, China

On July 14, 2021, the Senate passed S.65, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act to address concerns regarding Chinese labor policies in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The bill would impose importation limits on goods made with forced labor in the region and impose sanctions related to use of forced labor. The Department of Homeland Security must provide Congress with its strategy for preventing the importation of goods produced with forced labor, including information on entities working with the Xinjiang government to move persecuted groups used in forced labor out of Xinjiang.

The bill directs U.S. Customs and Border Control (CBP) to generally presume goods produced in the region to have used forced labor in the manufacturing process and bar them from entry into the U.S. stream of commerce. The legislation also would expand existing visa- and asset-blocking sanctions targeting Xinjiang to cover foreign individuals and entities that committed serious human rights abuses related to forced labor. In addition, the Department of State will produce a report to Congress assessing if the Chinese government’s role in forced labor constitutes genocide against Uyghur Muslims, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and other persecuted groups in the region and provide a strategy to raise international awareness of forced labor in the region.

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act now awaits action by the House of Representatives which has several bills under consideration on the issue. The House is not expected to adopt the Senate bill as written and it will likely require a conference between the House and Senate to reach a compromise once the House passes its forced labor bill. President Biden is expected to sign forced labor legislation should it reach his desk.

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