An 86-year-old ban on imported goods made by slaves and children is on the verge of being enforced as a result of U.S. president Barack Obama signing the bill into law on Wednesday.
The bill, called The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, aims to create conditions for U.S. workers and businesses and it ends the so-called “consumptive demand”, which relates to The Tariff Act of 1930, according to which authorities could not seize shipments suspected of being produced by forced labor if there was not enough supply to meet domestic demands.
After the implementing of the new law, Customs can receive a petition from anyone, from a business to a non-citizen, which shows “reasonably but not conclusively” that the imported goods were produced by forced labor.
The U.S. Department of Labor holds that around 350 products from countries all around the world are now being made by forced labor. These products include garments from Bangladesh, coffee from Colombia, or shrimp from Thailand.
Oregon senator Ron Wyden told The Associated Press earlier this month: “It’s an outrage this loophole persisted for so long. No product made by people held against their will, or by children, should ever be imported to the United States”.
David Abramowitz, vice president of Humanity United, an advocator of this law, said according to ABC News: “If the U.S. government works to really keep out goods made with forced labor, this change will have a profound ripple effect on supply chains worldwide.”