The United States has withdrawn its plans for a broad import ban on cotton and tomato products from Xianjiang,China. It also announced narrower bans on products from five specified entities.
Kenneth Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary of the department of homeland security (DHS), said the withhold release orders (WROs) imposed on cotton, textiles, apparel, hair products and computer parts are directed at resisting the use of detained Uighur muslims for forced labour by China.
He noted that though the U.S has rolled back the plan, the Trump administration is conducting more legal analysis of the region-wide import ban. This was further confirmed by Mark Morgan, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) acting commissioner, who said the agency’s investigations into the region-wide orders continues.
Under long standing laws aimed at combating human trafficking, child labour and other human rights abuses, the WROs is a legal backing that authorises the U.S Customs and Border Protection to detain shipments under suspicion until shippers can prove the products are not produced with forced labour.
Wang Wenbin, Chinese spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, denied the accusations. According to him, the forced labour issue is entirely fabricated by some organisations and people in the U.S. and the West and China is set to take all necessary actions to protect its companies’ legitimate rights and interests. Wang also believes the U.S. actions are a violation of the rules of international trade, which disrupts global industrial, supply and value chains.
China is currently the world’s leading exporter of tomato paste, which is processed with tomatoes mostly grown in Xinjiang, an autonomous territory in Northwest China.