The timing could not be better for the U.S. medical community, which is scrambling to find additional protective gear to combat the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), when Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced this week that it has lifted an import hold on one of the world’s largest suppliers of rubber gloves.
Effective March 23, CBP revoked the former “withhold release order” for rubber gloves exported by WRP Asia Pacific Sdn. Bhd, to the U.S. Disposable rubber gloves manufactured by the Malaysian company after March 16 will now be admissible at all U.S. ports of entry, the agency said.
CBP said it made the decision after confirming that WRP Asia Pacific’s practices now conform to International Labor Organization standards in its manufacturing supply chain.
“This is an example of the mutually beneficial and positive results that occur when importers and manufacturers work with CBP to achieve common goals,” Brenda Smith, CBP’s executive assistant commissioner for the Office of Trade, said in a statement. “We are very pleased that this effort successfully mitigated a significant supply chain risk and resulted in better working conditions and more compliant trade.”
The agency had issued the withhold release order for WRP Asia Pacific’s rubber glove imports in September 2019 after obtaining information about the use of forced labor to make its products for export to the U.S. market.
At the time of announcing the withhold release order for WRP Asia Pacific’s products, CBP estimated the company shipped about $79.5 million of product to the U.S. in 2018.
U.S. prohibitions against the use of forced labor in trade date to the 1930 Tariff Act. The passage of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 widened CBP’s capability to investigate and prohibit goods manufactured using forced labor from entering the U.S.
The Forced Labor Division within CBP’s Office of Trade leads agency enforcement efforts prohibiting the import of goods made using forced labor. This corporate activity may include convict, child and indentured labor.
Investigations may be initiated in myriad ways, including through news reports and tips from the public or trade. CBP may also self-initiate an investigation into the use of forced labor in any given supply chain.