On its website CBP recently posted an invitation for interested industry representatives to participate in a two-day event called “Forced Labor Industry Days” to be held June 28 and 29.
The first day will focus on textile supply chain transparency, namely what are the best business practices that allow for an importer to trace the origin of subject goods perhaps to the point of origin of the raw materials (e.g., the planting of the cotton seeds in the production of garments).
The second day will focus on country of origin identification, especially on the technologies allowing for the physical examination or laboratory analysis of goods needed to verify the legitimacy of a Country of Origin claim.
We expect that in the aftermath of this event CBP will lay out rules that will add clarity to the due diligence that is expected from importers in regard to section 1307 enforcement and Withhold Release Orders.
This is not the first time that CBP has stepped in to verify origin nor the first time that it has relied on high tech solutions in trade remedy situations. Origin is a key component to free trade eligibility (USMCA among other FTAs) and CBP routinely questions origin when the benefits of an FTA are claimed.
Two instances of CBP high tech analysis come to mind. In the instance of Burma-origin rubies that were prohibited from importation, CBP previously performed spectrometry analysis, which can be used to identify mineral inclusions which are specific to a geographic area.
In the case of Chinese garlic, antidumping duties will be levied at import. But there is a documented history of falsely declaring Chinese garlic as Mexican when the garlic has merely transshipped Mexico. See ruling no. HQ 562751 (5/10/2004) for a discussion of one such shipment of garlic claimed to be of Mexican origin. Through “multivariate discriminant statistical analysis” the CBP lab ultimately proved the actual origin was Mexico and thus antidumping duties were avoided.