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CBP and Top Glove Respond to Forced-Labor Flap

While U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) told Sourcing Journal that it seized a shipment of 3.97 million nitrile disposable gloves from Top Glove because the forced labor finding against the company’s manufacturing of the product “remains active,” Top Glove and CBP said they were working to either resolve or modify the finding.

“CBP is treating Top Glove’s petition to modify the July 15, 2020, Withhold Release Order as a petition to modify the March 29, 2021 forced labor finding,” a CBP spokesperson said in response to an inquiry. “We continue to evaluate information submitted by Top Glove in support of that petition.”

The spokesperson said the length of the review process for such petitions varies with the individual facts and circumstances of each case.

“CBP will not modify or revoke a forced labor finding until it has information that all indicators of forced labor identified by the agency have been fully remediated and it is demonstrated that forced labor is no longer being used to produce the goods targeted by the finding,” the spokesperson added.

For its part, Top Glove told Sourcing Journal that it “continues to work closely with the U.S. CBP toward the expeditious resolution and revocation/modification of the Withhold Release Order (WRO)/Finding.”

On March 29, CBP issued a forced labor finding against disposable gloves produced in Malaysia by Top Glove. The finding said CBP had “sufficient information to believe that Top Glove uses forced labor in the production of disposable gloves in its Malaysian facilities. Moreover, the finding instructed CBP personnel at ports of entry to seize shipments containing disposable gloves manufactured in whole or in part in Top Glove’s Malaysian facilities.”

Top Glove subsequently submitted a petition to modify that WRO and had independent consultant Impactt Ltd. confirm that it had remediated the 11 International Labor Organization (ILO) forced labor indicators.

CBP had first issued the WRO against importing disposable gloves made in Malaysia by Top Glove on July 15, 2020. The WRO instructed CBP personnel at ports of entry to detain shipments containing the product in question from the company. The WRO was based on “reasonable but not conclusive information that multiple forced labor indicators exist in Top Glove’s production process, including debt bondage, excessive overtime, abusive living and working conditions, and retention of identity documents.”

The shipment in Cleveland was seized after an inspection by CBP officers revealed that the gloves were produced in Malaysia by a subsidiary of Top Glove. The estimated value of the shipment was $518,000.

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