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Customs Seizes Another Top Glove Shipment

Top Glove imports are in hot water yet again.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers assigned to the Port of Kansas City Missouri seized another 4.68 million latex gloves in a shipment  produced in Malaysia by a subsidiary of Top Glove Corp. and destined for Kansas City.

CBP personnel seized the shipment due to information indicating that the gloves were made by forced labor. On March 29, CBP directed personnel at all U.S. ports of entry to begin seizing disposable gloves produced in Malaysia by Top Glove. The estimated value of the shipment was $690,000.

This came after the CBP Office of Trade, in collaboration with the Secretary of the Treasury, published a “forced labor finding” announcing that it had determined that certain disposable gloves have been “mined, produced or manufactured” in Malaysia by Top Glove “with the use of convict, forced or indentured labor, and are being, or are likely to be, imported into the United States.”

“Considering this seizure took place in the heartland of America, it goes to show that imports produced by forced labor affect everyone nationwide,” said Steven Ellis, port director for Kansas City. “CBP will not tolerate forced labor in U.S. supply chains.”

CBP’s forced labor finding was based on evidence of multiple forced labor indicators in Top Glove’s production process, including debt bondage, excessive overtime, abusive working and living conditions, and retention of identity documents. The order was an expansion of a Withhold Release Order issued in July that detained the same products.

The most recent action came after CBP in Cleveland seized a shipment of 3.97 million nitrile disposable gloves from Top Glove Corp. earlier this month for the same cause. CBP told Sourcing Journal last week that the seizures were occurring 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.

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“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. We continue to evaluate information submitted by Top Glove in support of that petition,” a CBP spokesperson said. “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.”

Last month, Top Glove announced that it had resolved all 11 International Labor Organization (ILO) indicators of forced labor. The resolution was verified by independent international consultant Impactt Limited in a report dated April 22.

Impactt said in its report that the findings of the third verification carried out in April showed Top Glove had made further progress to close the six indicators of forced labor indicators remaining in January–retention of identity documents, abusive working and living conditions, deception, debt bondage, physical and sexual violence and intimidation.