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WASHINGTON – The US House of Representatives has voted to take comprehensive action against the import of apparel and other goods from Xinjiang’s Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and will work on the “legal presumption” that any product which arrives from the area can and will be ceased on such grounds, unless proven otherwise.

The Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act comes hot on the heels of the country’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announcing five Withhold Release Orders (WRO) against stock made in Xinjiang, including items made using cotton harvested in the region.

With the bill now to be put before the US Senate, the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) has spoken out saying that, whilst it too is concerned about the allegations of forced labour facing suppliers in Xinjiang, blocking the import of goods until they’re proven not to have been made using forced labour enforces a “guilty until proven innocent” blanket standard.  

Already, five organisations have said they won’t help companies audit their supply chains in XUAR, with Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporting that “a police-state atmosphere” and “government controls” make it too difficult to determine whether factories and farms rely on forced labour.

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