On February 23, 2023, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued new guidance for importers on the agency’s Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) enforcement web page. This includes additional guidance in the form of frequently asked questions (FAQs), guidance setting forth best practices for submitting documentation to prove that detained goods are not subject to the UFLPA, and guidance on executive summaries and sample tables of content for importer applicability review submissions. CBP’s new guidance contains important information regarding the documentation that will be expected from importers in their “applicability review” submissions, which is CBP’s term for an importer submission that seeks to demonstrate that a shipment is not subject to the UFLPA because the merchandise was not produced in whole or in part in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) or by an entity on the UFLPA Entity List.
CBP’s FAQs advise importers who wish to submit a request for “applicability review” to provide the following documentation (translated into English, if necessary) to CBP:
- Transaction and supply chain records, including full records of transactions and supply chain documentation that demonstrate the country of origin of the components – e.g., packing lists, bills of lading, manifests;
- Documents demonstrating the parties participating in the transactions, including all parties involved in the manufacture, manipulation, or export of a particular good – e.g., summarize the roles of parties involved, as substantiated by other documentation, provide a flow chart of supply chain; and
- Documents relating to the payment and transportation of raw materials, including documentation showing the origin of the material and that these business transactions (e.g., invoices, contracts, and purchase orders) have occurred financially and physically – e.g., proof of payments, documentation showing the transfer of goods.
In addition, when appropriate, importers should identify that the supply chain is identical to a previously reviewed supply chain for which the goods were found admissible. Importers should provide summary tracing reports to the assigned Center of Excellence to enable CBP to verify that the new product came from the identical supply chain. The summary tracing report should include the suppliers/producers for all production stages and a business record — such as an invoice number, contract number, or purchase order number — involved in the production of the merchandise being imported. According to CBP, using this approach has lessened the detention period for detained shipments to an average of 10 to 14 days.
Similarly, importers of products from supply chains that rely on inputs commingled during the production process with materials suspected of being manufactured using forced labor should provide summary tracing reports with their submission package if they are from a supply chain that is identical to a previously reviewed supply chain for which the goods were found admissible.
CBP also released a guidance that sets forth “best practices” for importers in applicability reviews. CBP’s guidance advises importers to be prepared for detention, including having a clear plan for responding to a detention under the UFLPA. In addition, CBP advises importers to communicate with the appropriate CBP Center of Excellence and Expertise regarding a high-risk import before it arrives at a U.S. port of entry, and to provide a thorough package of documentation in advance of arrival. Importers should also notify CBP when the supply chain for a particular import is identical to one previously reviewed by CBP, if appropriate. CBP expects that as “an importer gains experience with submitting applicability packages and CBP becomes familiarized with consistent supply chains, the processing time for the importer’s applicability reviews generally will decrease.” CBP’s guidance also contains two brief examples of “properly prepared applicability review packages,” one from a solar panel importer and the other from an apparel importer.
Finally, CBP released another guidance document on executive summaries and sample tables of contents for importer applicability review submissions. CBP advised that each package of documents should be well organized and include an executive summary explaining the documents contained in the package. In addition, CBP requires importers to add a table of contents in their applicability review submissions. CBP’s guidance document also provides for two sample tables of contents – one generic sample and one specific to solar panels. The sample table of contents for a solar panel importer includes documentation importers should get from the module producers, solar cell suppliers, wafer suppliers, ingot suppliers, polysilicon suppliers, metallurgical grad silicon suppliers and quartzite suppliers.
CBP’s UFLPA Implementation web page is available here.