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CBP Issues Another WRO Over Forced Labor Concerns

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued Monday a Withhold Release Order (WRO) on all disposable gloves produced in Malaysia by Brightway Group based on information that “reasonably indicates the use of forced labor” during manufacturing.

This immediately bars all nitrile, latex and neoprene gloves from the company’s wholly owned subsidiaries, including Brightway Holdings, Laglove and Biopro, from entering the United States.

“Forced labor is a human rights abuse inflicted upon 25 million people worldwide,” CBP commissioner Chris Magnus said in a statement. “CBP will not allow goods tainted with forced labor to make their way into American households and businesses.”

The agency said its investigation identified 10 of 11 indicators of forced labor as laid out by the International Labour Organization (ILO). These include restriction of movement, debt bondage, withholding of wages, excessive overtime and physical and sexual violence.

“As Americans, we wholeheartedly reject goods made with forced labor,” said AnnMarie R. Highsmith, executive assistant commissioner at the CBP Office of Trade Executive. “CBP applauds ongoing efforts made by our industry partners to identify and remove forced labor from their supply chains and urges all importers to do the same.”

Brightway, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, employs roughly 2,500 workers across 52 lines and is capable of producing 340 million gloves per month, according to its website. It’s the third Malaysian glove maker to be slapped with an WRO.

Supermax Corp., whose wholly owned subsidiaries include Maxter Glove Manufacturing, Maxwell Glove Manufacturing and Supermax Glove Manufacturing, was similarly sanctioned in October after CBP identified 10 of the ILO’s indicators of forced labor.

“This Withhold Release Order will help protect vulnerable workers,” then acting CBP commissioner Troy Miller said at the time. “CBP is a global leader in forced labor enforcement, and we will continue to exclude products made by modern slavery from entering into the United States.”

In September, CBP lifted a year-long WRO on Top Glove, the world’s biggest manufacturer of medical gloves, after a review of evidence showed that the company addressed all indicators of forced labor. Top Glove dispensed more than $30 million in remediation payments to its employees, the agency said, while improving labor and living conditions at its facilities.

“Withhold Release Orders and Findings send a strong message to U.S. importers about the costs associated with doing business with entities that exploit forced labor, but they also offer a path to remediation,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said at the time. “This is a great example of the extraordinary efforts of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to protect human rights and American consumers and businesses from goods made by modern slavery.”

CBP seizes shipments of goods suspected of being imported in violation of federal statute 19 U.S.C. 1307, which prohibits the importation of merchandise produced, wholly or in part, by convict labor, forced labor or indentured labor, including forced or indentured child labor. Importers of detained shipments can either export their shipments or provide proof that the merchandise was not produced with forced labor.

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