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Lobbying Widespread on Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act

Lobbying disclosure reports show a lot of corporate interest in the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. The National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the American Apparel and Footwear Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Plumbing Manufacturers International, and many companies, including Nike, Apple, Engie North America, Kraft Heinz, Campbell Soup and VF have been lobbying on the bill, which passed the House almost unanimously and is awaiting a Senate vote. The law would create a presumption that any goods from China's Xinjiang province were made with forced labor. The AFL-CIO and the American Foundry Society also have been lobbying on the bill.

In many cases, one cannot know if a company or trade association is lobbying against the bill, is lobbying for a revised version of the bill, or is lobbying for the bill, though in the case of the NRF, its lobbying disclosure form for the third quarter says it opposes both the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention bill and the Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act.

Although some of the groups spent hundreds of thousands of dollars during the third quarter on lobbying, in nearly every case, the forced labor legislation was not the only trade priority. For instance, the AFL-CIO also lobbied on Pakistan's trade preferences and USMCA; Kraft Heinz lobbied on tomato tariffs, the ban on WeChat and winning access in the United Kingdom for U.S. beans and tomato paste, in addition to forced labor in Xinjiang.

In past testimony on creating a presumption of guilt at CBP through a withhold release order for all Xinjiang exports, AAFA CEO Steve Lamar said sanctions need to be transparent and targeted (see 2009170029). For some companies, the trade issues could be secondary to broader economic relief. VF, parent brand of backpack makers, outdoor clothing, and work clothes and boots, spent $190,000 on lobbying in the third quarter, and touched on COVID-19 relief, forced labor, the Generalized System of Preferences benefits program, and the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill. VF's most recent quarterly earnings report projected its revenue to be 14% below last year's figures.