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Top Glove Imports Ban Revoked, CBP Says

Top Glove scored a victory in its ongoing CBP imports saga.

After seizing multiple shipments from the nitrile disposable glove maker in May due to active forced labor findings at the company’s Malaysia factories, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is modifying its mandate banning the imports.

“CBP modified a Finding after thoroughly reviewing evidence that Top Glove has addressed all indicators of forced labor identified at its Malaysian facilities,” CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller said Friday. Effective immediately, the agency will permit the company to resume importing its disposable gloves.

In response to the Withhold Release Order (WRO), Top Glove issued more than $30 million in remediation payments to workers, while improving labor and living conditions at its facilities, Miller said. These measures “suggest that CBP’s enforcement efforts provide a strong economic incentive for entities to eliminate forced labor from their supply chains,” he said.

CBP first issued its finding in a Customs Bulletin and the Federal Register fingering the company’s Malaysian factories for indicators of forced labor in late March. At that point, CBP personnel got the green light to begin seizing the maker’s glove shipments into the U.S.

The March finding expanded on an existing WRO that CBP issued in July 2020 based on “reasonable but not conclusive” indicators of forced labor in Top Glove’s manufacturing process. The findings pointed to practices like debt bondage, excessive overtime, abusive working and living conditions, and retention of identity documents, CBP said.

Based on 19 U.S.C. 1307, merchandise that is produced either wholly or in part by labor that is forced, indentured or performed by convicts or children is prohibited from entering the U.S. When CBP finds evidence that these conditions exist in relation to products being imported, it is empowered to detain those shipments. The importers are then tasked with exporting those goods or proving, in accordance with Proof of Admissibility law 19 C.F.R §12.43, that the merchandise wasn’t made using forced labor.

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“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. “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.”

Interested parties can request that WROs and findings be modified or revoked by providing evidence specific to their individual case. Once the agency finds that the evidence contradicting the incriminations of false labor are sufficient, it may choose to revisit its decision, as it did in the case of Top Glove.

The company first asked CBP to take a second look at its WRO in May, telling Sourcing Journal at the time that it was working “closely with the U.S. CBP toward the expeditious resolution and revocation/modification of the Withhold Release Order (WRO)/Finding.”

Estimates peg the value of Top Glove’s May shipment, which CBP officers seized in Cleveland, at $518,000. The second shipment, bound for Kansas City, was valued at $690,000.