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US industry reacts to ban on XUAR cotton imports

Joint statement from AAFA, NRF, RILA, USFIA in response to ban on all cotton imports from XUAR.

14th January 2021

Knitting Industry
 |  Washington, DC, USA

Knitted Outerwear

The Trump administration announced on Wednesday a ban on imports of cotton from the Xinjiang area of China, as well as all products made with those materials, citing human rights violations and the widespread use of forced labour in the region. The measure could have sweeping implications for makers of apparel and food products, many of whom have sought to distance themselves from atrocities in Xinjiang but have struggled to ensure their supply chains are free of all raw materials from the region, the New York Times reported.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders Association, and The United States Fashion Industry Association responded to the blanket Withhold Release Order (WRO) impacting all cotton and cotton products from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China, with a joint statement.

“The companies we represent remain outraged by the reports of forced labour in the XUAR – and reports that Uyghurs are being trafficked to other regions – and have long made eradicating forced labour in our supply chains a top operational and public policy priority,” AAFA said in the statement.

“Today’s announcement matches our members’ accelerated commitment in this region. The industry is pioneering and implementing new technologies and innovative approaches to decipher where supply chains are susceptible to forced labour, particularly as it relates to XUAR.”

“We look forward to working with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to make sure enforcement is smart, transparent, targeted, and effective. We urge CBP to share with industry the evidence gathered, and the evidentiary thresholds used, that led to today’s announcement. Additionally, we ask CBP to share enforcement actions so that industry can further inform their due diligence and amplify and expand CBP’s enforcement efforts,” AAFA added.

“We look forward to working with the new Congress and new administration to build on today’s announcement by developing and implementing a holistic approach that provides all stakeholders a clear, effective, and enforceable path forward on reaching our shared goal – ending forced labour and the larger campaign of oppression it fuels.”

AAFA Website

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