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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

US blocks imports from FGV over 'forced labour' allegations

 


The United States said on Wednesday it has banned the import of palm oil from Malaysian company FGV Holdings over allegations that it used forced labour in the production process.

FGV, the world's largest crude palm oil producer, has long faced allegations from some international non-governmental organisations that foreign workers at its plantations work in abusive conditions.

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said the ban is the result of a year-long investigation that revealed forced labour indicators including abuse of the vulnerable, deception, physical and sexual violence, intimidation and threats, retention of identity documents, among others.

The investigation also raised concerns that forced child labour is potentially being used in FGV’s palm oil production process, it said in a statement, adding that the ban will come into effect immediately.

"The use of forced labour in the production of such a ubiquitous product allows companies to profit from the abuse of vulnerable workers," said Brenda Smith, Executive Assistant Commissioner of CBP's trade office.

Smith also said consumer goods company Procter & Gamble, with which FGV has a joint venture, should take note of the ban.

"I can't specifically comment on the joint venture with Procter & Gamble, but if Procter & Gamble is an importer, this withhold release order is something they should take seriously," Smith said.

The CBP will issue a 'withhold release order', which will allow it to detain shipments based on suspicion of forced labour involvement under longstanding US laws aimed at combating human trafficking, child labour and other human rights abuses.

Reuters

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