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Watchdog Group Asks CBP for WRO on Apple Products

Imported Apple products should be subject to a withhold release order and blocked at the ports due to possible involvement of forced labor in China, Campaign for Accountability said in Sept. 27 filing. "The seizure of Apple imports credibly tied to forced labor would be consistent with other recent CBP enforcement actions" and "[t]here is now compelling evidence that Apple iPhones, computers, and other products should be added to the list," the non-profit said in its submission.

The Tech Transparency Project, a CfA "research initiative," provided information to reporters about possible links to forced labor between Apple's Chinese suppliers in recent years (see 2012290023). "We believe there is sufficient evidence to conclude that Apple, the world’s most valuable company, is in violation of the Tariff Act, and that CBP must enforce the law," CfA Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith said. "By issuing a Withhold Release Order (WRO) and preventing the importation of Apple products linked to forced labor, the CBP has the power to compel Apple into action beyond its blanket, face-saving denials.”

Lawmakers leading the Congressional-Executive Commission asked Apple in June to work closely with CBP to make sure forced labor isn't used (see 2106080062). Apple didn't comment but has rejected claims of forced labor within in its supply chains on multiple occasions previously. "Apple’s repeated claims to have 'thoroughly investigated' the forced labor issue are suspect, given the evidence that such factory inspections appear to be challenging, if not impossible, in China," CfA said in its filing.

The group made the filing through CBP's e-Allegations portal, which allows for anyone to report suspected violations of trade laws. Recent deadlines released by the Department of Homeland Security say CBP generally accepts or rejects WRO petition within 30 days (see 2109240027). CBP may provide an update to an alleger on whether the information provided is enough to prompt an investigation (see 2105240022).