In an effort to combat human rights injustices, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may issue a Withhold Release Order (WRO) for certain goods. We recently saw this with textiles and apparel manufactured from cotton grown in the Xinjiang Province in China, which also grows some of the best cotton in the world. However, 85% of the cotton grown and harvested in China comes from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, using forced and/or child labor.
Keep reading to understand what a WRO is and how it affects textile imports.
What Is A Withhold Release Order?
US imports from locations and businesses known to use forced labor will be detained at the port of entry under Withhold Release Orders. This means that the goods will automatically go on detention at the time of importation.
Ensure You Do Not Source Materials That Fall Under A Withhold Release Order
It is up to the Importer of Record (IOR) to provide proof that the goods they are importing are not manufactured from Withhold Release Order regions.
A Certificate of Origin will help importers contend that their goods were not. This certificate must be signed by the foreign seller and follow the guidance below:
- Follow the required format: The foreign seller or producer of the goods must provide the following certification (in these exact words:
I [insert seller name here] foreign seller or owner of the merchandise hereinafter described, certify that such merchandise, consisting of [quantity] of [description] in [number and kind of packages] bearing the following marks and numbers [insert marks and numbers] was mined, produced, or manufactured by [name] at or near [location], and was laden on board departed from on [date]; and that [class of labor specified in finding] was not employed in any stage of the mining, production, or manufacture of the merchandise or of any component thereof.
Dated _______________________ Signature _______________________
- Ensure that you, the Importer of Record submit this statement to CBP and not the seller. It must be supported with proof that forced labor was not used in any of its production.
What Happens If Customs Detains My Imports Under Withhold Release Order?
Goods that go on detention will require documentation that should trace the supply chain from the point of origin of the goods, to the production and processing of the material and other products made from the materials in question, to the merchandise imported into the US.
An example of the type of supporting documentation needed to prove the goods are not manufactured from cotton grown in the Xinjiang Region would be:
- The yarn producer's affidavit which details the source of the goods
- Supporting documentation such as proof of payment, the invoice or purchase order
- Production records and steps that the cotton in question endured, with identifying details
- Documentation for the transport of the cotton from grower to manufacture
- Documentation for the employee who gathered the cotton of the plant such as pay statements, timesheets or schedules, or progress reports
This is not an exhaustive list. Additional documentation may be required.
So, the moral of the story is to know who you are buying from and ensure that they are reputable and following acceptable labor practices. Certify that fact and you should encounter smooth sailing.