Taking a stand against forced labour, the United States on Wednesday, announced a ban on the import of cotton and tomato products from the Xinjiang region of China wherein detained Uyghur Muslims are allegedly being used as forced labour to produce the said products. Effective from January 13th, all products made using tomato or cotton including apparel and textiles created through Xinjiang-grown cotton and tomato seeds, tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, etc. made using Xinjiang-grown tomato will be detained by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Both CBP’s Acting Commissioner, Mark A. Morgan, and US Department of Homeland Security’s acting chief, Kenneth Cuccinelli, stated that the ban was to send the message across that forced labour will not be tolerated in the United States, given their stand against human rights violations and their duty to protect Americans from making unethical purchases. The imposition of economic penalties will be hardening the stand of the US against China’s administration.

The move will be causing significant losses to Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) which is one of the largest producers of cotton in China. Further, the import ban will be impacting the cotton production in Xinjiang, which is responsible for 20% of the world’s cotton supply. Nevertheless, the ban is being projected as favourable to India’s cotton business. According to the Indian Cotton Association, an astounding 63% rise can be expected in the export of cotton due to the ban. A report published by the Investment Information and Credit Rating Agency of India (ICRA) has also cited a surge in demands for Indian apparel by international buyers to fill in the gap caused by the imposition of US sanctions on Chinese cotton and related products.

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In a statement issued by CBP, this is the second Withhold Release Order that has been issued by them against products originating from Xinjiang province of China. China has faced global criticism for organizing mass detention camps to brainwash Uyghur Muslims and make them undergo forced labour. An estimated one million Muslims are being detained in these camps as per the United Nations. China, however, has repeatedly called these allegations propaganda to suppress Chinese businesses and China.

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