Chairs Applaud New Funding To Block Forced Labor Imports From Xinjiang

March 10, 2022

(Washington)—Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative James P. McGovern (D-MA), the Chair and Cochair respectively of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), applauded the inclusion of more than $27 million in new funding in the FY2022 omnibus appropriations bill for implementation of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA). After the UFLPA was signed into law on December 23, 2021, Merkley and McGovern, along with the CECC’s ranking members, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees seeking increased funding to aggressively implement the UFLPA and fulfill the Administration’s desire for additional enforcement resources.  The Chairs issued the following statement on the FY2022 omnibus appropriations bill:

“It is critically important to provide Customs and Border Protection with increased funding to aggressively block goods produced in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) or made with the forced labor of Uyghurs and other persecuted minorities elsewhere in China from entering the United States.The UFLPA’s import prohibitions begin on June 21, 2022, so implementation funding is urgently needed.The Chinese government and businesses have profited for too long from the forced labor of Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Turkic Muslim ethnic minorities. Given the strong connection between forced labor, crimes against humanity and genocide in the XUAR, we must impose real costs for anyone profiting from atrocities. As the United States ramps up its vigilance to protect our markets from complicity in these atrocities, other countries around the world need to do the same.”

Section 3(a) of the UFLPA establishes a “rebuttable presumption” that goods sourced from the XUAR or any entities or businesses that have benefitted from the forced labor of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims are subject to exclusion or seizure under Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930, 19 U.S.C. § 1307. This provision of the bill goes into effect on June 21, 2022.

The UFLPA also required a public comment period seeking input from the public and stakeholders, in which businesses, labor unions, advocacy organizations and individuals could offer their perspectives on how to implement the mandate to prevent the importation into the United States of goods made with forced labor in Xinjiang or by entities involved in coercive labor transfer programs elsewhere in China. The public comment period, initiated by the Department of Homeland Security, ends on March 10, 2022.  Comments submitted can be viewed here.