On 30th January, Baker McKenzie provided an online webinar on this important topic, and best practices to avoid or mitigate the risks. The forced labour aspect has been stated to be a top priority for US Customs and Border Protection, and the further restrictions on involvement of North Korea and North Korean labour only makes the topic a higher profile one.
The webinar began by pointing out that a US ban on imported goods made with forced labour (including child labour) has been in effect for almost 90 years. However, 2 changes to the law in the last 2 years have radically changed the enforcement landscape:
- the Trade Facilitation & Trade Enforcement Act of 2016 closed a loophole in the forced labour ban which had largely prevented effective enforcement; and
- the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) established a presumption that goods made by North Korean labourers, regardless of location, are made with forced labour.
Following the first of these, US CBP starting issuing orders.
The webinar posed the question, one that boards and management should be asking themselves – “How do you know this product was not produced, in whole or in part, with forced labour?”.
It points out that a number of other statutes and international standards are increasing the pressure on, and scrutiny of, compliance with human rights requirements; and that a company may be liable for human rights and forced labour abuses by third parties.
This was one of a planned series of trade-related webinars in 2018, see –