The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) empowers the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to scrutinize imports from the Chinese province of Xinjiang due to the potential use of forced labor. A key tool in this initiative is the UFLPA Entity List, which assists businesses in identifying and avoiding entities implicated in forced labor practices. 

Despite making strides in the past two years, the issue of forced labor persists within the U.S. supply chain, leading to stronger efforts to enforce UFLPA compliance. This is underlined  with a 45% increase in enforcement actions in the first quarter of 2024.  

Compliance with the UFLPA is business critical, the law operates with a rebuttable presumption that all goods produced or manufactured by companies on the UFLPA entity lists are made with forced labor and thus prohibited from entering the U.S. Any organization suspected of using forced labor faces delayed and possibly denied imports, reputational damage, loss of business and high remediation costs.  

In this article we will explore the recent spike in enforcement actions and offer insights into how businesses can ensure their supply chains remain free of forced labor. 

Key Takeaways 

  • The UFLPA grants CBP the power to intercept any imports linked to the Xinjiang region in China, known for its alleged use of forced labor. 
  • The UFLPA Entity List is a detailed catalog of organizations connected to Xinjiang. It provides importers with an up-to-date checklist for screening purposes. 
  • Non-compliance with the UFLPA can lead to shipments being stopped and rejected, significantly interrupting business activities. 
  • There has been a notable increase in UFLPA enforcement actions so far in 2024, indicating the U.S. government's intensified efforts to eliminate forced labor. 
  • Businesses must perform initial and ongoing denied party screening to safeguard operations and maintain a supply chain free of forced labor practices. 

UFLPA Entity List: Ensuring Supply Chain Compliance 

Since its inception in 2022, the UFLPA has already prevented shipments worth US$3.17 billion from entering the United States. Additionally, the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force (FLETF) was established to oversee and ensure compliance with laws against importing goods produced with forced labor. 

Figure 1: CBP Data on the Value of Shipments Detained Since Inception of UFLPA 

CBP shipment metrics showing the monetary value of shipments detained between June 2022 and March 2024.

Led by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FLETF is an interagency group focused on blocking the entry of products made with forced labor into the United States. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, goods made with forced labor are still making it past customs. 

To combat and ultimately eradicate forced labor in supply chains, the DHS provides the UFLPA Entity List, organized into four main categories: 

  1. Companies and organizations in Xinjiang which are mining, producing, or manufacturing goods, either fully or partially, using forced labor. 
  1. Companies working in partnership with the Xinjiang government to recruit, transport, transfer, house, or accept forced labor, including Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, or members of other persecuted groups. 
  1. Companies that have shipped products mentioned in described in clause (iii) from China to the United States. 
  1. Facilities and companies that obtain materials from Xinjiang or collaborate with the Xinjiang government or the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps in "poverty alleviation," "pairing assistance," or any other state-managed programs that employ forced labor. 

Understanding High-Priority Sectors for UFLPA Enforcement 

The UFLPA Enforcement Strategy outlines certain industries as high-priority sectors, indicating a focused effort to prevent forced labor products from entering the U.S. market: 

  • Apparel 
  • Tomatoes 
  • Cotton and its products 
  • Silica-based products 
  • Downstream products 

Figure 2: CBP Statistics on Detained Shipment Count by Industry and Results 

CBP statistics showing the number of shipments detained by industry in Q1 2024 and the result after inspection

UFLPA requirements apply to all industries, however, identifying these high-priority sectors aims to enable businesses to craft specific strategies for importing goods within these categories. CBP's risk assessment procedures utilize various data sources, including high-priority sectors, to decide how to handle shipments. 

Legislative Influence on UFLPA Entity List Expansion 

Recently, members of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sent a detailed letter to Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  

The nine-page letter called for more robust UFLPA enforcement and pointed out several issues that the committee believes weakened its effective enforcement, particularly emphasizing the need to expand the UFLPA Entity List.  

A previously overlooked category was highlighted alongside recommendations for adding specific entities to the list. Following the committee's recommendations, the category focusing on entities “recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring, or receiving forced labor” has been incorporated into the UFLPA Entity List. 

The Effect of UFLPA Bans on Supply Chains 

The implementation of the UFLPA Entity List and enforcement have successfully blocked a vast number of products tied to forced labor from entering the US.  

Yet, despite rejecting goods and materials worth billions of dollars, the challenge of intercepting imports that involve forced labor persists. Now, FLETF, CBP, and the DHS are enhancing their efforts to identify and detain the importation of such items more precisely. 

The financial impact of these efforts has already surpassed the $1 billion mark only a few months into 2024, signaling a vigorous initiative to eliminate forced labor from the U.S. supply chain. Notably, March 2024 witnessed an unprecedented spike in the value of intercepted shipments, surpassing $300 million for the first time. 

Figure 3: Overview of UFLPA Enforcement Statistics January-March 2024 

Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection  

US Customs and Border Protection UFLPA shipment metrics overview from January to March 2024.

The leading product types and countries of origin for 2024 also indicate an increased efficacy in thwarting efforts to bypass UFLPA restrictions — and the necessity of denied party screening. As countries other than China continue to lead in value of shipment detained/denied entry, it's imperative for businesses to prioritize comprehensive due diligence throughout their supply chains. 

Figure 4: Shipment value by country of origin, January to March 2024 

US Customs and Border Protection shipment value by country of origin for Q1 2024

Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection  

Strengthening your UFLPA Entity List Compliance Strategies 

The uptick in enforcement activities highlights that businesses in every industry develop effective strategies to adapt to the evolving compliance requirements under the UFLPA.  

Taking proactive steps to avoid forced labor compliance issues ensures that imports are shipped as planned to keep your business operating. A few key strategies include: 

  • Supply chain Tracing: Complete transparency is the backbone of a resilient supply chain. Vetting your direct suppliers is not sufficient; you must also uncover any indirect suppliers listed on the UFLPA Entity List. 
  • Denied party screening: It is crucial to have exhaustive processes for denied parties in your business operations, especially when onboarding new suppliers. This proactive approach helps you avoid engaging with any entity implicated in using forced labor. 
  • Sanctioned ownership screening: In developing countries, there have been instances where exporters are connected to sanctioned entities through business ownership structures. Identifying them poses a significant challenge, but you can streamline this process and maintain compliance with proactive measures and solutions. 
  • Detailed Documentation of UFLPA Compliance: Proactively document your due diligence efforts to be audit ready. Ensure you maintain accurate records that demonstrate goods originating from high-risk areas were not produced wholly or in part with forced labor. 

Employing these strategies helps ensure that businesses can continue to import goods without facing delays or legal issues stemming from forced labor concerns. You can also get a copy of our handy miniguide which provides practical steps on how to fight forced labor in supply chains

Simplify UFLPA Entity List Compliance with Descartes 

Investing the necessary time and resources into establishing or improving your UFLPA compliance strategies is crucial. Doing so helps reduce the risk of detention and rejection of shipments, preventing financial losses and delays associated with missed shipments.  

Descartes is a provider of an industry-leading suite of solutions for denied party screening, 3rd party risk management, trade content for leading business systems, as well as global trade intelligence solutions that feature the world’s largest database and the latest advancements in AI to help you trace your supply chains with better visibility. 

Ready to strengthen your UFLPA Entity List compliance efforts? Request a demo today to see our platform in action and discover how we can help. Additionally, you can read what users are saying about our denied party screening solutions on G2.