On January 13, 2021, the U.S. Government issued a “Withhold Release Order” which effective immediately bans imports of cotton and tomato products produced in Xinjiang, China. The US retail and apparel industries issued a joint industry reaction to the ban. While supportive, there are concerns about enforcement. The signatories to the industry letter include: The American Apparel & Footwear Association, National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders Association and The United States Fashion Industry Association.
The Government of Canada has not issued a similar “Withhold Order” as noted above. However, In coordination with the United Kingdom and other international partners, Canada is adopting a comprehensive approach to defend human rights of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities by advancing measures to address the risk of forced labour from any country from entering Canadian and global supply chains and to protect Canadian businesses from becoming unknowingly complicit.
Canada’s approach includes the following seven measures:
- A prohibition of imports of goods produced wholly or in part by forced labour;
- A Xinjiang Integrity Declaration for Canadian companies;
- A Business advisory on Xinjiang-related entities;
- Enhanced advice to Canadian businesses;
- Export controls;
- Increasing awareness for Responsible Business Conduct linked to Xinjiang; and
- A study on forced labour and supply chain risks.
Canada is also considering Bill S-216, a new “Modern Slavery Act” that would have reputational, due diligence and reporting implications for retailers operating in Canada.
- China is Canada’s largest trading partner after the U.S.
- Canada’s merchandise imports with China totaled $75 billion in 2019, including electronics, apparel, textiles & furniture.
For more information, please contact Jason McLinton, VP Grocery Division and Regulatory Affairs, RCC, at [email protected]