CBP's Smith Says Initial Focus for Xinjiang WRO Is Direct Connections, Not Goods Finished Elsewhere
CBP will use a “scalpel approach” to enforcement of the recently issued withhold release order on cotton and tomato products from China’s Xinjiang region (see 2101130053), Brenda Smith, CBP executive assistant commissioner-trade, said during a Jan. 27 event hosted by the Washington International Trade Association. “We are committed to taking a scalpel approach and are looking and continuing to gather information and ensure that our targeting is focused on the highest risk shipments,” she said. The WRO “will be a challenge to enforce” because of the amount of cotton that comes from the area, she said.
The challenge for CBP is “how do we specifically identify the goods that have Xinjiang cotton in them,” she said. “If you just go by probability, many garments coming from China are likely to have this. CBP will apply its standard enforcement approach, which is on the highest risk.” CBP looks for cases where there is a direct business connection with entities in the regions, and where there is high volume coming out, talks “to those business entities where we have significant imports headed to the” U.S. While CBP is aware of lots of cotton leaving China to be processed into a finished garment, the agency's initial focus is on direct links to Xinjiang, she said.