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No Importers Have Overcome UFLPA Rebuttable Presumption So Far, CBP Official Says

A little over a month since the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act rebuttable presumption took effect, no importer so far has successfully overcome that presumption, Elva Muneton, acting executive director of the UFLPA Implementation Task Force said, speaking Aug. 3 during the CBP Detroit Field Office's Virtual Trade Week. "Thirty days into this. I have not seen any documentation that has been able to overcome the rebuttable presumption," she said. But, "it's only been 30 days so I think the documentation for a lot of the shippers that are detained are being assembled to be submitted to CBP. That's what I'm guessing is happening."

Others have decided instead to export the stopped goods rather than try to overcome the rebuttable presumption, Muneton said. For "a lot of the initial shipments" that were detained, "I think some of the importers weren't ready and the shipments were just pretty much exported back out," which is a good resolution, she said. "We don't want that cargo here in the United States, especially if it contains forced labor, and if an importer is not able to overcome that rebuttable presumption and export[s] that cargo back out is what we want them to do." CBP doesn't limit what countries those goods can be exported to, she said.

CBP is still in the process of deciding what level of statistics the agency will release publicly. "We will be publishing something," most likely on a quarterly basis due to the time it takes to complete reviews, she said. "It takes time for shipments to be addressed, for the reviews to be done. Things don't move as fast when it comes to review of documentation and all that. So we're still trying to figure out if we're going to do that on a quarterly basis and what's going to be published. It'll probably be on our website. But we literally are trying to develop that now as we speak."

Some importers have sought customs rulings to get CBP input ahead a shipment's arrival, she said. "I think we have four in the works right now of importers that have requested a ruling on their supply chain, but that ruling will be specific to that supply chain," she said. "So for importers that change their supply chain or it's constantly changing, or there's an input that changes, that's not really going to work."

A ruling request creates other limitations, too, she said. "When you submit a ruling and [the Office of Rulings and Regulations] is working on your ruling, you cannot have any importations at a port of entry," she said. "So if an importer is willing to submit the ruling and hold off on importing until they get the ruling back, then absolutely" a ruling would be useful, she said. For importers that can't wait, that's a downside of the process and CBP has heard some complaints about that, she said. "A ruling is good if you have a very consistent supply chain and if you're willing to hold off on importing" or are willing to import, with an understanding that the pending ruling won't apply to shipments that are at the port.