U.S. Senators, including Ron Wyden, Bill Cassidy, Tim Kaine, Thom Tillis, Mark Warner, Lindsey Graham, Sherrod Brown, and Tim Scott, have jointly called on U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to bolster efforts preventing Chinese companies from skirting U.S. laws against forced labor.
The senators emphasized the need for heightened oversight and enforcement provisions within trade agreements involving Central American and North American partners. In a letter to Acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller, the senators stressed the urgency of enforcing the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
The closure of U.S. textile and apparel mills raised concerns, attributing the decline to insufficient customs enforcement. The senators linked lax enforcement to the infiltration of banned Xinjiang cotton into regional supply chains, undermining efforts to implement the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.
The letter emphasized the pivotal role of robust enforcement in securing supply chains and ensuring compliance with trade agreements. As the U.S. is a major cotton producer, the senators urged CBP to swiftly address trade cheating before products reach American shores.
The senators proposed immediate actions, including increasing on-site verifications of textile facilities, fostering information-sharing arrangements with customs authorities, enhancing the targeting of fraudulent shipments, and conducting a comprehensive review of enforcement authorities.
They underscored the importance of a strategic plan to maximize CBP's tools and resources for compliance with trade rules. In essence, the senators are urging proactive measures to safeguard American jobs and industries against potential exploitation through trade agreements.