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U.S. House and Senate Reach Agreement on Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act

On December 14, 2021, lawmakers in the House and Senate announced that they had reached an agreement on compromise language for a bill known as the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act or “UFLPA.”  Different versions of this measure passed the House and the Senate earlier this year, but lawmakers and Congressional staff have been working to reconcile the parallel proposals. The compromise language paves the way for Congress to pass the bill and send it to President Biden’s desk as soon as this week.

The bill would establish a rebuttable presumption that all goods originating from China’s Xinjiang region violate existing US law prohibiting the importation of goods made with forced labor. The rebuttable presumption would go into effect 180 days after enactment.  The compromise bill would also require federal officials to solicit public comments and hold a public hearing to aid in developing a strategy for the enforcement of the import ban vis-à-vis goods alleged to have been made through forced labor in China.

This rebuttable presumption will present significant challenges to businesses with supply chains that might touch the Xinjiang region.  Many businesses do not have full visibility into their supply chains and will need to act quickly to map their suppliers and respond to identified risks.  Importers must present detailed documentaton in order to release any shipments that they think were improperly detained, a costly and time-consuming endeavor.  Notably, the public comment and hearing processes will guide the government’s enforcement strategy, providing business stakeholders an opportunity to contribute to an enforcement process that could have implications for implementation of the import ban more broadly.

China’s Xinjiang region is a part of several critical supply chains, lead among them global cotton and apparel trade, as well as solar module production.  According to the Peterson Institute:

Xinjiang accounts for nearly 20 percent of global cotton production, with annual production greater than that of the entire United States. Its position in refined polysilicon—the material from which solar panels are built—is even more dominant, accounting for nearly half of global production. Virtually all silicon-based solar panels are likely to contain some Xinjiang-sourced silicon, according to Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. If signed into law, the bill will send apparel producers and the US solar industry scrambling to find alternative sources of supply and prices are bound to increase.

© Copyright 2023 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 349

About this Author

Ludmilla Kasulke Trade Attorney Squire Patton Boggs Washington DC
Senior Associate

Ludmilla (Milla) Kasulke draws on her experience in both domestic and international policy to assist clients on trade matters. Milla provides multinational corporations, sovereign governments and entities, and quasi-government entities with advice on a wide range of trade policy, legal, and regulatory issues. She has been actively engaged in all aspects of the Section 232 process, including the exclusion petition process, and regularly advises clients on the impacts of current and potential new actions. Milla also regularly counsels clients on the impacts of current and potential new trade...

Rory Murphy Public Policy Attorney Squire Patton Boggs Washington DC

Rory Murphy is a member of our Public Policy Practice, where he focuses on providing US public policy guidance, global cultural and business diplomacy advice that helps US and foreign governments and entities with doing business around the globe.

Rory joins the firm after spending two years as a Policy Analyst at the US Export-Import Bank (EXIM), where he represented the agency at international negotiations on export finance at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and at the International Working Group on Export...