On February 23, 2023, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) released new guidance for importers seeking admissibility of goods under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (“UFLPA”). The three guidance documents include an updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), best practices for applicability reviews, and tips on submitting executive summaries and documentation when under an applicability review. As importers continue to navigate the new forced labor enforcement landscape, these resources provide additional insight into what CBP expects when proving compliance with UFLPA.
- Preparing for an UFLPA Applicability Review
The guidance on Preparing For an Applicability Review explains how importers should package their response to an UFLPA detention notice. Specifically, in instances where the importer is seeking to prove that the UFLPA rebuttable presumption does not apply, CBP advises that an executive summary and a table of contents should be utilized to organize the contents in a clear and concise manner. The executive summary as outlined in the guidance should include the following:
- Annotated document list providing an explanation of each document, its purpose, and any key information;
- Summary of supply chain detailing key information on how each step in the transportation and manufacturing processes is connected; and
- Additional summary information that may help CBP understand the provided documentation
To aid importers in preparing what documents to submit, CBP also provides two sample table of contents based upon the complexity of the supply chain. Both tables of contents include documents kept in the ordinary course of business (e.g., purchase orders, invoices, bills of lading, etc.) to demonstrate the complete import transaction. CBP recommends importers refer to the UFLPA Operational Guidance for a more comprehensive list of documents. Ultimately, CBP urges that the documents should detail the order, purchase, manufacture, and transportation of inputs throughout the supply chain.
- Best Practices
The Best Practices for Applicability Review guidance advises importers on proactive steps to take before a detention notice, and how to proceed in an instance where goods have been detained. Particularly, CBP reiterates diligence steps that importers should take prior to importing merchandise: assess risks, provide awareness of enforcement among supply chain partners, and set expectations early in the event that a detention occurs. When preparing documents, CBP cautions importers to present the submission as a package rather than “piecemeal” documents, as to provide a complete picture of the transaction. The guidance also provides examples of documents that are included in a properly prepared review package based on a solar panel import and an apparel import. As emphasized by CBP, the specified documents are to be provided for all stages of the manufacturing process.
The updated FAQ guidance provides general information regarding enforcement and expectations for importers. Of notable highlight from the FAQs:
- CBP notes that prompt communication regarding identical supply chains, high risk imports, and Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (“CTPAT”) status will aid in faster, more efficient review times. Specifically, reporting identical supply chains to CBP has on average resulted in 10-14 days decrease in detention time.
- CTPAT and Trusted Trader importers are also receiving additional benefits as of November 2022. Those benefits include priority review, redelivery privileges, and bonded facility options in the event of Withhold Release Order (“WRO”) detainment.
- CBP expects to provide more resources for the trade community in the near future, including an interactive dashboard on enforcement statistics beginning March 31, 2023. There will also be a Forced Labor Technical Expo on March 14-15, 2023 to share existing resources such as those for supply chain tracing and testing.
Those seeking more information regarding UFLPA compliance and best practices can reach out to the Husch Blackwell International Trade and Supply Chain team.
 The UFLPA establishes a rebuttable presumption that goods mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in the XUAR or by an entity on the UFLPA Entity list were made with forced labor.