U.S. lawmakers seek to tighten ban on forced-labor goods from China's Xinjiang
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Leading U.S. lawmakers proposed legislation on Wednesday aimed at preventing goods made from forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region from reaching the United States.

The legislation would require importers to obtain certification from the U.S. government that goods were not produced using forced labor by minority Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

The heart of the proposed Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act is a "rebuttable presumption" that assumes that all goods manufactured in Xinjiang are made with forced labor and therefore banned under the 1930 Tariff Act, unless the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection certifies otherwise. This would shift the burden of proof from the current rule, which bans goods if there is reasonable evidence of forced labor.

The bill also calls for the U.S. president to impose sanctions on "any foreign person who ’knowingly engages’" in forced labor of minority Muslims. It would also require firms to disclose dealings with Xinjiang.

The United Nations estimates that more than a million Muslim Uighurs have been detained in camps in Xinjiang over recent years as part of a wide-reaching campaign by Chinese officials to stamp out terrorism.

On Wednesday, China denied Uighurs were subject to forced labor after senior Democratic Senator Bob Menendez accused U.S. firms of willfully ignoring "horrific" conditions in Xinjiang and urged the Commerce Department to prevent American firms and consumers buying goods produced with such labor.

If the proposal becomes law, it could have a significant impact on the cotton industry in Xinjiang, which produces a substantial proportion of the world’s supply of the commodity.

Its introduction is likely to anger China, months after Beijing and the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump reached an agreement to ease a damaging trade war.
Posted by: Besoeker 2020-03-12