McDonald’s and Others Respond to Claims of Forced Labor in Coffee

February 7, 2024 – McDonald’s released a statement last week in response to a report by the Netherlands-based Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and Brazil-based Conectas claiming that companies including McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Illy import coffee produced using forced labor. McDonald’s statement emphasizes a zero-tolerance policy towards forced labor and commitment to sustainable sourcing. Nestle also responded, mentioning their due diligence system to address human rights risks. For more information, read SOMO’s report.

Researchers Express Concerns on Chinese Evasion of Forced Labor Laws

February 7, 2024 – Yalkun Uluyol, a researcher at Sheffield Hallam University’s Forced Labour Lab, stated that the Chinese government is actively circumventing forced labor laws. During the U.K. Parliament hearing yesterday, Uluyol described the main tactics used, which include heavy online censorship, changing subsidiary names, and altering ownership structures to conceal ties to Xinjiang region. At the hearing, Chloe Cranston of Anti-slavery International stated that audits are not a solution, as forced labor audits in the Uyghur region are “completely lacking credibility.” Watch the recording of the hearing here.

NGO Report Highlights Forced Labor in Auto Supply Chains

February 7, 2024 – NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report last week indicating that certain car manufacturers in China may have “succumbed to government pressure to apply weaker human rights and responsible sourcing standards at their Chinese joint ventures than in their global operations.” The report cites research from Sheffield Hallam University, NomoGaia, and Horizon Advisory to state that aluminum producers in Xinjiang have been participating in labor transfers since at least 2020. The report did acknowledge, however, that most of China’s aluminum production is used by Chinese manufacturers, so it is unlikely that European or North American carmakers’ operations are unlikely to be directly importing aluminum produced with forced labor. Read the full report here.

China Tightens Exporter Requirements With Decree 248 Update

February 7, 2024 – China recently updated its list of products requiring registration of foreign production facilities under Decree 248, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service this month. China removed 74 products from the list and added 56 products, impacting food categories including dairy, aquatic products, and grains. Under the decree, some U.S. production facilities may be subject to revised customs and registration procedures before their products can enter China. For more information, read the full report.

Senate Negotiators Include FEND Off Fentanyl Act in Border Bill

February 7, 2024 – Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)’s bipartisan FEND Off Fentanyl Act, aimed at targeting fentanyl suppliers in China and Mexico, has been included in a bipartisan border bill released by Senate negotiators. Senator Brown’s statement this week emphasizes the urgency of securing the southern border to prevent fentanyl from impacting Ohio communities, urging colleagues to prioritize national security and bipartisan cooperation. The legislation seeks to impose new sanctions and anti-money laundering penalties on the illicit fentanyl supply chain. Read the statement here

Commerce and CBP Introduce New AD/CVD Feature in ACE

February 7, 2024 – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Department of Commerce announced in a notice last week that CBP will introduce a new feature in ACE to help importers identifies entries subject to antidumping and/or countervailing duties (AD/CVD). The new functionality is scheduled to be launched on May 2, 2024. For more information, read the Department of Commerce’s notice.

Trump Suggests Tariffs on Chinese Goods Could Exceed 60%

February 7, 2024 – Former President Trump hinted that tariffs on Chinese goods could exceed 60% if reelected, during a television interview with Maria Bartiromo this week, refuting claims of considering a flat rate. Trump defended his trade actions, denying initiating a trade war and expressing admiration for Chinese President Xi Jinping. Read more from Politico