CBP Modifies Withhold Release Order on Imports of Tobacco from Malawi

WASHINGTON — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) modified a withhold release order (WRO) today such that tobacco imported from Malawi by Alliance One International, LLC will be admissible at all U.S. ports of entry effective June 3, 2020. CBP previously prevented these tobacco imports from entering the United States based on reasonable suspicion that they were produced using forced labor.

CBP modified the WRO based on a rigorous evaluation of Alliance One International’s social compliance program and efforts to identify and minimize the risks of forced labor from its supply chain. These actions produced evidence that sufficiently supports Alliance One International’s claim that the tobacco produced and harvested from their farms does not use forced labor. The WRO continues to apply to imports of tobacco from Malawi by any company that has not demonstrated to CBP that there is no forced labor in its supply chain.

“CBP recognizes the impact that withhold release orders have on importers and exporters, therefore we diligently work to carefully and thoroughly review petitions and admissibility requests,” said Brenda Smith, Executive Assistant Commissioner of CBP’s Office of Trade. “If companies demonstrate that there is no forced labor in their supply chain, we will modify the withhold release order to exclude them.”

Federal statute 19 U.S.C. 1307 prohibits the importation of merchandise mined, manufactured or produced, wholly or in part, by forced labor, including convict labor, forced child labor and indentured labor.

CBP is committed to identifying and preventing products made by forced labor from entering the United States to maintain a level playing field for U.S. domestic industry. CBP receives allegations of forced labor from a variety of sources including the public. Any person or organization that has reason to believe merchandise produced with the use of forced labor is being, or likely to be, imported into the United States can report detailed allegations by contacting CBP through the e-Allegations Online Trade Violation Reporting System or by calling 1-800-BE-ALERT.  Click here to learn more.