Vietnamese exports come under tight scrutiny by US customs

Officials are looking for violations of the Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act.
By RFA Vietnamese
2023.11.22
Vietnamese exports come under tight scrutiny by US customs Containers are transferred from a truck to a cargo ship at the international cargo terminal of a port in Haiphong, Vietnam, Aug. 12, 2019.
Nhac Nguyen/AFP

Vietnam’s exports to the United States have come under closer scrutiny by U.S. Customs and Border officials since a law preventing material or products made by forced labor in China took effect in June 2022. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, said nearly 1,200 shipments of imported goods from Vietnam were denied clearance from June 2022 when the U.S. Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act, or UFLPA, went into effect, to the start of fiscal year 2024.

The law prohibits imports of raw material and products or components made by forced labor in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region into the United States.  

The U.S. government has declared that genocide and crimes against humanity against Muslim Uyghurs have occurred in Xinjiang, including mass detentions of Muslim Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities in “re-education” camps or prisons and the use of forced labor. 

Uyghur forced labor has been used to produce cotton for clothing and polysilicon for photovoltaic panels and semiconductors.

China has consistently denied the accusations of rights abuses in Xinjiang. 

Vietnam currently has the second-largest number of shipments denied entry to the U.S. after Malaysia since the UFLPA has been enforced. 

The tighter rules on tackling human rights violations in Xinjiang have led to controls on more than 6,000 shipments carrying goods worth more than US$2 billion through September, the latest month for which U.S. customs data are available, Reuters reported

CPB authorities examined more than 2,000 total shipments from Vietnam valued at nearly US$549 million, of which 1,186 shipments worth more than US$230 million were denied entry, 554 shipments were released, and 330 shipments were still pending as of Nov. 8, according to the CPB’s latest data

Most of the shipments — 962 —were electronics worth over US$488 million. Other shipments involved were industrial and manufacturing materials; apparel, footwear and textiles; consumer products; and machinery. Of this amount, 376 shipments were denied, 438 were released, and 148 were pending.

With 140 shipments worth over US$46 million rejected, August 2022 saw the highest number of shipments from Vietnam denied entry to the U.S., according to the data. 

More than two-thirds of rejected or held cargo in the U.S. came from Vietnam and Malaysia, major exporters of solar panels and semiconductors, Reuters reported. 

Neither Vietnam’s nor Malaysia’s trade ministries replied to Reuters’ requests for comment.

Translated by Anna Vu for RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Malcolm Foster.

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