Labor Department updates forced labor list to target polysilicon from region in China

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs took an unprecedented step by publishing a Federal Register Notice that targets polysilicon produced with what it said is forced labor in China.

Every two years, the Bureau publishes its “List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor” that the bureau has reason to believe are produced by child labor or forced labor in violation of international standards, as directed by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 and subsequent reauthorizations.

For the first time outside of that two-year cycle, the department updated the list to include polysilicon, which is used predominantly in the production of solar panels.

Marty Walsh

The Bureau said “This extraordinary measure is a response to the severity of the ongoing human rights abuses connected to the country’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.”  It said that conditions of forced labor “following coercion or detention in the so called ‘re-education camps’ are ongoing.” It said the measure also supports an effort by the U.S. government to address China’s state-sponsored forced labor and broader human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other minority groups in Xinjiang.

“The world and the American people cannot abide the presence of goods made under the exploitative conditions experienced by Uyghur and other ethnic minority groups in its global supply chains,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh.

In addition, the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection issued a Withhold Release Order prohibiting silica-based products from Hoshine Silicon Industry Co. Ltd in Xinjiang from entering the U.S. market. In addition, the Department of Commerce has updated its Entity List with new entities connected to forced labor and polysilicon production in Xinjiang.

(Read “Biden administration targets four Chinese companies with import bans over forced labor allegations.“)

The ninth edition of the department’s list, published last September, contained other products from China that have links to forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region or by Uyghur workers transferred to other parts of China: cotton, garments, footwear, electronics, gloves, hair products, textiles, thread/yarn and tomato products.

With today’s announcement of the update to the ninth edition, the list now includes 156 goods from 77 countries.

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