Bishop Delivers Opening Remarks in Hearing on DHS Enforcement of Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act
January 11, 2024
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Accountability Chairman Dan Bishop (R-NC) delivered the following opening statement in a hearing to examine improvements needed to the enforcement of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA). The hearing was livestreamed on YouTube and the Committee’s website.
As prepared for delivery:
Today’s hearing of the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Accountability follows up on our previous hearing on enforcement of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) in October. During that October hearing, a panel of policy experts and industry representatives highlighted ongoing issues and concerns related to preventing goods made with Uyghur forced labor from being imported into the United States.
While importing goods made with forced labor has been against federal law since 1930, through implementation of the UFLPA, Congress recognized that China’s state-sponsored system of forced labor presents a unique challenge on account of its mass scale and the regime’s power to obstruct investigations into forced labor.
This is an economic, strategic, and moral issue, and the UFLPA marked a significant step towards countering China’s predatory and exploitative practices.
Unfortunately, China’s use of forced labor in global supply chains continues to pose a significant enforcement challenge across a wide range of economic sectors, including textiles, minerals, and seafood.
For example, the overwhelming majority of cotton used in Chinese textile products is grown in the Xinjiang province, which the UFLPA specifically singles out as a focal point of China’s state-sponsored forced labor regime. Any cotton grown in the province is presumptively linked to forced labor under the UFLPA, yet CBP’s isotopic testing of clothing samples still found items shipped to the U.S. made with cotton from Xinjiang and CBP detained 46 million dollars’ worth of textile and clothing imports for suspected UFLPA violations since June 2022.
Yet CBP’s detention rate is just a sliver of the billions of dollars of textile products the U.S. imports annually from China, emphasizing the continuing challenge in effectively enforcing the UFLPA.
Furthermore, those seeking to profit off goods tainted with forced labor use a wide range of tactics to obscure forced labor in the supply chain, such as shipping products through other countries to disguise the country of origin, mixing inputs produced with forced labor with clean inputs, and misrepresenting the origin of the products in question.
Technology such as isotopic testing can help identify inputs traced to a geographic area, such as cotton grown in Xinjiang, but it is not clear how widely or routinely such forensic technologies are being used.
In our October hearing, several witnesses pointed to the rapid increase in de minimis shipments as an avenue for prohibited goods to enter the U.S., with de minimis shipments more than doubling over the last five years and more than one billion de minimis shipments entering the U.S. in fiscal year 2023. As you would expect, an increase in shipments increases the chances of contraband getting through. The majority of these de minimis shipments originate in China.
Our witnesses also highlighted the limited scale of the UFLPA Entity List. This list contains 30 entities, only ten of which have been added since the initial list was published.
Notably, many of those entities on the initial list were already subject to Withhold Release Orders blocking their imports, so they were already on the government’s radar. It seems that the Entity List is merely scratching the surface of the vast universe of potential entities that could be listed.
Is the interagency process to consider new additions too cumbersome? Are there ways that this process might be improved?
More broadly, given Beijing’s resistance to supply chain investigations for forced labor and its control of information, does the task force have sufficient capabilities to monitor and analyze the use of forced labor within China?
These are questions we hope our witnesses today can help us answer.
The purpose of today’s hearing is to examine current efforts to enforce the UFLPA, as well as the challenges encountered since the law went into effect a year and a half ago, and ultimately to identify ways that enforcement can be improved and made more effective.
These are all serious matters to consider as this committee carries out its oversight responsibilities to ensure effective enforcement of the UFLPA. I want to thank our witnesses from DHS, CBP, and the Department of Labor for joining us today, and I look forward to hearing their testimony.