An Open Letter to Businesses
June 21, 2022
We, the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region, welcome the implementation of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) in the United States (U.S.). This groundbreaking law establishes a rebuttable presumption that the importation of any goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly, or in part, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, (Uyghur Region), or produced by certain entities implicated in forced labour, is prohibited by Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 and that such goods, wares, articles, and merchandise are not entitled to entry to the U.S.
The UFLPA, in effect, codifies into law the central elements of the Call to Action launched by the Coalition in July 2020, which called on brands and retailers to exit the Uyghur Region at every level of their supply chains and cease doing business with suppliers implicated in forced labour. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection has published importer operational guidance to prepare companies for the implementation of the UFLPA. With the UFLPA in force, and with goods that have content from the Uyghur Region therefore effectively barred from entry into the U.S., it is vital to ensure that companies do not attempt to shift such goods to other markets.
We, therefore, call on all companies with global sourcing operations, including the hundreds of companies that have been credibly and publicly identified as operating in, or having business relationships in the Uyghur Region , to comply fully with the UFLPA and to apply a single global standard, consistent with the requirements of the law, across their entire supply chain for all retail markets. We also call on companies to refrain from re-exporting any goods denied entry to the U.S. under the auspices of the UFLPA and attempting to sell in other markets. Specifically, we ask these companies:
- In light of the UFLPA, and in consideration of existing and forthcoming laws in other jurisdictions, particularly the EU and EU Member States, does your company commit to apply a single global standard in regard to excluding Uyghur forced labour across your supply chains, aligned with the legal requirements set forth in the UFLPA?
- Is your company committed to not re-exporting goods detained under the auspices of the UFLPA to other markets?
Operating in the Uyghur Region in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights has become a practical impossibility. There are no valid means for companies to verify that any workplace in the Uyghur Region is free of forced labour or to prevent the use of forced labour in these workplaces in line with human rights due diligence; therefore, business must operate on the assumption that all products produced in part or in whole in the Uyghur Region are at high risk of being tainted by forced labour.
The Coalition welcomes the steps taken by lawmakers around the world toward preventing companies from profiting from forced labour, such as the EU’s commitment to adopt an instrument to effectively ban products made by forced labour from entering the EU market. However, until and unless such an instrument is enacted, there is risk that the EU, the world’s largest single market, will serve as a dumping ground for goods tainted with forced labour. We call upon all governments, including the UK, Japan, Canada, and Australia, to adopt robust measures to ban the import of products made with forced labour.
There is significant, credible documentation that Uyghur forced labour is used in global supply chains across a number of sectors. All companies must fully extricate their supply chains from the Uyghur Region to ensure they are not complicit in human rights abuses. Further, companies must prevent the use of forced labour in facilities elsewhere that use workers forcibly transferred from the Uyghur Region, including by ending relationships.
The Coalition will continue to monitor brands and retailers’, in any industries, steps to meaningfully remove Uyghur forced labour from their global supply chains, and to work with policymakers to achieve harmonisation of laws by calling for more governments to adopt measures to ban products made by forced labour and raise business standards.
 Update on June 23, in light of the publication of Jewish World Watch’s Uyghur Forced Labor Database, the coalition specifically directs its requests to all companies named in this database. The database is independent of the Coalition.
Photo credit: Barrett Ward