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Customs Targeted $500 Million in Suspected Forced Labor Imports in 2021

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s 2021 year-end report illustrates the agency’s ongoing work protecting American supply chains against economic and human-rights threats such as forced labor and counterfeits.

Last year, CBP issued seven Withhold Release Orders (WROs) and two Findings to protect American consumers and businesses from receiving nearly $500 million of goods made by forced labor.

Those WROs targeted cotton products and tomato products from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, silica-based products made by a company that operates in Xinjiang, palm oil from a Malaysian company, and tuna and other seafood harvested by a Chinese fishing fleet, a Taiwan-flagged fishing vessel and a Fijian-flagged fishing vessel.

In 2021, CBP detained 1,469 shipments that contained approximately $486 million of goods suspected to be made by forced labor. As Homeland Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas has said, CBP will not tolerate forced labor in American supply chains and stands against cruel and inhumane labor practices.

“The operational statistics for Fiscal Year 2021 show the breadth and scope of CBP’s mission, which encompasses travel and trade, drug interdiction and border security,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said.  “CBP’s mission is vital to making our country safer and more secure, and important to our economic recovery.”

One of CBP’s core mission objectives is to enhance the nation’s economic prosperity, including through the facilitation of lawful trade and travel, which the agency is particularly important to the country’s economic rebound from the impacts of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. In that mission, CBP continues to protect America’s national and economic security by facilitating legitimate trade while rigorously enforcing U.S. customs laws and regulations.

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In 2021, CBP processed approximately $2.8 trillion of imports, an increase of nearly 17 percent compared to the same period in 2020. Overall, CBP collected approximately $93.8 billion in duties, taxes and other fees on behalf of the U.S. government in FY2021, representing a 133 percent increase over a five-year period.

CBP said it works diligently with the trade and the port operators to ensure that merchandise is cleared as efficiently as possible. CBP works with the trade community to strengthen international supply chains and improve border security.

There are several programs through which CBP works with importers, carriers, consolidators, licensed customs brokers and manufacturers to advance information about the shipments and expedite the inspection process at the ports of entry.

CBP also seized more than 83,000 shipments for trade violations in the year. In September alone, CBP processed more than 3 million entry summaries valued at more than $259 billion, identifying estimated duties of nearly $8.4 billion to be collected by the U.S. government.

Intellectual property rights violations continue to put America’s innovation economy at risk, CBP said. Trade in counterfeit and pirated goods threatens the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, the livelihoods of American workers, and the health and safety of consumers.