October 20, 2023 at 5:30 p.m.
WASHINGTON, D.C.––The American government must act now against China’s forced-labor practices.
That’s the word Thursday from Kristi Ellis, the vice president of communications for the National Council of Textile Organizations. A Washington-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers, the NCTO has long advocated fairer trade practices.
Ellis continued that the U.S. Government must act now to step up enforcement of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act and close de minimis (“of small things,” in Latin) loopholes imperiling American manufacturers and facilitating the shipment of dangerous products to American doors.
The Uyghurs (say “WHEE-goors”) are a traditionally nomadic people, mostly Turkish in origin, hailing ultimately from the Eurasian steppes and long a minority in northwestern China, where they’re concentrated in the Xinjiang province. China’s communist government, which is infamous for being deeply racist and brutally anti-religious, has long persecuted the Uyghurs, most of whom are Islamic and many of whom are European in appearance, often with blond hair and blue eyes. The government of Xi Jinping, revealing China as the Nazi-like rogue state that it is, has attempted to eradicate the Uyghurs through forced en-masse sterilization, concentration camps, forced-labor camps and other unspeakable human-rights violations, according to Helen Davidson of The Guardian and innumerable other such sources around the world.
And Ellis says that unless Congress and the Biden administration take immediate and aggressive action to step up enforcement against China’s predatory trade practices, the massive surge of imports arriving daily containing apparel made by slave labor, dangerous narcotics and counterfeits will continue to imperil consumers, ravage American communities and devastate the American manufacturing base.
That is the strong message being delivered by NCTO President and Chief Executive Officer Kim Glas. Ellis informed that Glas testified Thursday at a congressional hearing on “Exploitation and Enforcement: Evaluating the Department of Homeland Security’s Efforts to Counter Uyghur Forced Labor.”
Glas shared her comments in part.
“Chinese cotton products, made with forced labor in Xinjiang, in the most abhorrent conditions, are flooding the global marketplace, making their way both directly and indirectly to the U.S.,” she said, noting that around 72 percent of all Chinese cotton products contain Xinjiang cotton, leading to forced-labor textiles and apparel leaking into supply chains in the U.S. and its free-trade agreement regions. “As a result, American textile plants have been forced to idle equipment and lay off workers, while some companies have been put out of business entirely. Not only are we failing to stop forced-labor trade that Congress explicitly acted to address through the Uyghur Forced-Labor Prevention Act, but we are also rewarding China with duty-free access under the de minimis provision of our trade law. The de minimis loophole has become a superhighway for illicit goods as a result of ineffective rulemaking and a lack of adequate congressional action, and it’s a threat to us all.”
What to do
Glas says the following steps should be taken to counter these practices:
- Get aggressive on the oversight of customs enforcement of the Uyghur Forced-Labor Prevention Act and require U.S. Customs officials to testify regularly. Detail to Congress and the public a robust, forward-leaning enforcement plan to crack down on this illegal trade, increase penalties and other deterrent mechanisms and include measurable benchmarks for enforcement for this sector and beyond.
- Close the de minimis loophole for electronically-based commerce with a legislative fix to address the flood of fentanyl, forced-labor goods and counterfeits (China is notoriously good at printing counterfeit currency and creating knock-offs of countless toys, devices, appliances, clothing and other items) and pressure the Biden administration to immediately use its executive authorities to close it. This trade is uncontrollable and impossible to monitor. It makes enforcement of the Uyghur Forced-Labor Prevention Act impossible.
- Urge the Biden administration to utilize and expand the Uyghur Forced-Labor Prevention Act Entity List more robustly as a deterrent. To date, only 27 entities have been placed on the list, and all operate within China. Expand the list and include companies outside of China.
- Aggressively step-up enforcement, inspections and penalties to include more testing, including verification visits with American free-trade agreement partners and co-ordination.
“I want to sincerely thank subcommittee chairman Dan Bishop (R-NC) and ranking member Glenn Ivey (D-MD) for holding this important oversight hearing,” said Glas. “Consider this: Billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese apparel coming through the de minimis loophole and tainted by forced labor, is getting VIP treatment on its way straight to our front doors, at the expense of workers and manufacturers in the U.S. and our critical regional supply chains. This is all rewarded by the U.S. government. We must stop China’s forced-labor régime and support American companies and workers who are being exploited as a result.
“This is an economic fire,” she added, “a health fire and a human-rights fire. And we need it extinguished immediately. An aggressive enforcement plan, coupled with a set of rational revisions to the outdated and now extremely dangerous de minimis loophole in our trade law, would prevent the continuation of this devastation. But Congress and the executive branch must decisively act now.”
The Lincoln Herald covers the news of Lincolnton, Denver, Cherryville, Maiden, Alexis, Stanley, High Shoals--all of Lincoln County and neighboring Gaston, Catawba and Cleveland counties. We provide news, sports, obituaries, community events and much, much more! The Lincoln Herald also publishes birthday, anniversary, wedding and engagement announcements and some classified ads for individuals absolutely free...and reading the Herald is also FREE! E-mail us at [email protected] to submit your Story Ideas, Events or FREE Classifieds! Also contact us about our great advertising packages!