Forced Labor Enforcement Actions

 Forced labor has been a persistent topic in the world of supply chain for years but has grown in significance since around 2016 due in part to legislative actions taken in the United States. A great deal of information regarding forced labor and the global initiatives to prevent it is readily available. What is forced labor? The International Labour Organization has identified eleven indicators of forced labor, including isolation, restriction of movement, withholding wages, deception, excessive overtime, and intimidation.

 In light of the recent implementation of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) in the United States, Expeditors is committed to being an information resource for our customers on forced labor issues, including enforcement. Our goal is to explain, provide background and resources, and support our customers at whatever level of compliance they are at, always striving to enhance and improve compliance.

In 2021

there were over 27.5 million people estimated globally as victims of forced labor

were in private sector economy

were in forced sexual exploitation

were in state managed economy 

US Forced Labor Statutes

Legacy Statutes

US Statutes with Language on Forced Labor Enforcement

  • Tariff Act of 1930, Section 307
  • United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA)
  • Trafficking Victims Protection Act
  • Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020
  • Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act
  • Countering Americas Adversaries Through Sanctions Act
  • Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act
Tariff Act of 1930

Section 307 Enforcement Actions

All goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in any foreign country by convict labor or/and forced labor or/and indentured labor under penal sanctions shall not be entitled to entry at any of the ports of the United States, and the importation thereof is hereby prohibited…” Section 307, Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. § 1307)

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enforces this statute through two mechanisms – Withhold Release Orders (WRO) and Findings. If CBP has reasonable suspicion about the presence of forced labor in specific goods from a country, then a Withhold Release Order is used to detain those goods pending further review of the shipment. If CBP has conclusive evidence about the presence of forced labor in specific goods from a country, then a Finding is used to detain and seize those goods.


Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act

The more recent US act related to forced labor enforcement, Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, went into effect June 2022. This act imposed an extensive import ban on goods mined, produced, manufactured in whole or in part in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China or any goods made with forced labor from the XUAR, either within XUAR or forcibly transferred elsewhere in China.

This act effectively assumes all goods with a connection to XUAR were made with forced labor, therefore banning all trade made with XUAR entirely, unless clear and convincing evidence of no forced labor is made. CBP must notify US Congress of each exception within 30 days of the action.

What Can Importers Do?

  • Educate your suppliers on forced labor
  • Include language related to forced labor in your contracts and orders
  • Do not focus only on the seller of the goods
  • Look at all components from raw materials to the finished goods
  • Know where each component originated and who was involved in production
  • Establish an audit trail of supply chain traceability documents (PO, Invoice, Payment, Audit, Production, etc.)
  • Retain all records to support sourcing at all levels
  • Implement compliance monitoring program – consider independent third-party verifications
  • Have all necessary “evidence” in place prior to import – the 30-day detention period is too short to put together all that is needed to gain an exception under UFLPA or prove the absence of forced labor

Expeditors Engagement


We provide information through Newflash, Global Customs Market Updates, and webinars. 


Our Customs systems edits and screening for entities support our Forced Labor compliance protocols.


We are engaging with DHS and CBP headquarters on priority issues, Forced Labor, and UFLPA, and detention practices.


We are navigating the hold statuses within local ports and monitoring current CBP holds to assist in the shipment detention process. 


Fighting Forced Labor

Brenda Smith, Global Director of Government Outreach, details how the United States fights forced labor and what to expect when the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act goes into effect mid-June. We'll also take a look at what other countries are doing, as well as developments in technology to ensure compliance.