The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced it will ban all cotton and tomato products from China’s Xinjiang region regarding allegations the products are made using forced labor from detained Uighur Muslims. The withhold release order applies to raw fibers, apparel and textiles made from cotton produced in the region as well as tomato-based food products and seeds. The order also applies to products processed or manufactured in third countries. Previously, the U.S. stopped short of a region-wide ban, instead banning cotton from Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps., China’s largest producer.
CBP estimates that around $9 billion worth of cotton products and $10 million worth of tomato products were imported by the U.S. over the past year. Xinjiang produces an estimated 20% of the world’s cotton supply. U.S. apparel makers have complained a broad ban like the one announced today would be impossible to enforce.
In his final days in office, President Donald Trump has tightened the U.S.’s position against China, which could make it more difficult for President-elect Joe Biden to smooth relations when he takes office.