U.S. cracks down on slave-labor product imports

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A young worker in a small factory in Old Delhi.

President Barack Obama has signed a bill to let U.S. officials enforce an 86-year-old ban on importing goods made by children or slaves. The law closes a loophole that forced the U.S. to accept products made under those conditions. The Tariff Act of 1930, which gave Customs and Border Protection the authority to seize shipments where forced labor was suspected and block further imports, was last used in 2000.

It had been used fewer than 40 times largely because of two words: “consumptive demand.” That meant that if there wasn’t enough supply to meet American demand, imports were allowed into the country regardless of how they were produced.

The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act Obama signed eliminates that language and allows stiffer enforcement by federal agents. Human rights activists hope the law will push customs officials to be aggressive in seizing shipments of goods connected to forced labor.

It’s estimated that about 27 million people work under slavery conditions around the world.

Source: The Bellingham Herald

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