The EU will ban the products of forced labor

September 12, 2022

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The European Commission (the “EC”) is expected to announce a proposal shortly that will ban products made by forced labour. This decision follows a public consultation earlier this year by the EC seeking public opinion on an initiative “keep the EU market free of products produced, extracted or harvested by forced labour, whether produced in the EU or elsewhere in the world.”[1] The proposal could have a significant impact on companies’ supply chain management and approach to human rights due diligence; areas that are already under scrutiny by the EU.

Although the EU proposal has not yet been published, several media outlets report seeing an EU document stating that a ban should apply to products (including their components) for which forced labor has been used at any stage of production, manufacturing, harvesting or extraction, including working or processing.

The proposed ban should also apply regardless of the origin of the products, whether domestic or imported, placed or made available on the EU market or exported outside the EU.

It is understood that each EU Member State will be responsible for detection and enforcement and that national authorities will be responsible for proving that the products concerned have been produced or processed using forced labour. At least one report suggests that a database on the risks of forced labor in specific geographic areas or specific products made with forced labor imposed by state authorities will be created and made available to the public in the implementation framework.

One step further than the United States

The enactment of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (the “UFLPA”) on June 21, 2022 introduced a deemed ban on all imports into the United States from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (the “XUAR ”) and certain entities designated by the U.S. Department of Customs and Homeland Security Border Protection. The alleged UFLPA ban amended Section 307 of the United States Tariff Act of 1930, which generally prohibits the importation of any product extracted, produced, or manufactured in whole or in part by forced or indentured labor. children.

While the EU will follow the US in legislating to end forced labor practices, it appears that the geographical scope of the EU proposal will be broader than current US legislation, as it also applies in internal to products manufactured in the EU.

Next steps

The details of the proposal will need to be worked out with lawmakers and EU countries, but the planned ban appears to be sweeping and significant. We will monitor these developments and provide further details as the bill evolves.

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[1] https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/13480-Effectively-banning-products-produced-extracted-or-harvested-with-forced-labour_en


The following Gibson Dunn attorneys prepared this Client Alert: Susy Bullock, Perlette Jura, Christopher Timura, Sean J. Brennan* and Rebecca McGrath.

Gibson Dunn attorneys are available to answer any questions you may have regarding these developments. Please contact the Gibson Dunn lawyer with whom you usually work, the authors or the following members and leaders of the firm’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) or International Trade practice groups:

Environment, Social and Governance Group (ESG):
Susy Bullock – London (+44 (0) 20 7071 4283, [email protected])
Elizabeth Ising – Washington, DC (+1 202-955-8287, [email protected])
Perlette M. Jura – Los Angeles (+1 213-229-7121, [email protected])
Ronald Kirk – Dallas (+1 214-698-3295, [email protected])
Michael K. Murphy – Washington, DC (+1 202-955-8238, [email protected])
Selina S. Sagayam – London (+44 (0) 20 7071 4263, [email protected])
Rebecca McGrath – London (+44 (0) 20 7071 4219, [email protected])

International Trade Group:

United States
Judith Alison Lee – Co-Chair, International Business Practice, Washington, DC (+1 202-887-3591, [email protected])
Ronald Kirk – Co-Chair, International Business Practice, Dallas (+1 214-698-3295, [email protected])
Courtney M. Brown – Washington, DC (+1 202-955-8685, [email protected])
David P. Burns – Washington, DC (+1 202-887-3786, [email protected])
Stephenie Gosnell Handler – Washington, DC (+1 202-955-8510, [email protected])
Nicola T. Hanna – Los Angeles (+1 213-229-7269, [email protected])
Marcellus A. McRae – Los Angeles (+1 213-229-7675, [email protected])
Adam M. Smith – Washington, DC (+1 202-887-3547, [email protected])
Christopher T. Timura – Washington, DC (+1 202-887-3690, [email protected])
Annie Motto – Washington, DC (+1 212-351-3803, [email protected])
Chris R. Mullen – Washington, DC (+1 202-955-8250, [email protected])
Samantha Sewall – Washington, DC (+1 202-887-3509, [email protected])
Audi K. Syarief – Washington, DC (+1 202-955-8266, [email protected])
Scott R. Toussaint – Washington, DC (+1 202-887-3588, [email protected])
Shuo (Josh) Zhang – Washington, D.C. (+1 202-955-8270, [email protected])

Asia
Kelly Austin – Hong Kong (+852 2214 3788, [email protected])
David A. Wolber – Hong Kong (+852 2214 3764, [email protected])
Fang Xue – Beijing (+86 10 6502 8687, [email protected])
Qi Yue – Beijing – (+86 10 6502 8534, [email protected])

Europe
Attila Borsos – Brussels (+32 2 554 72 10, [email protected])
Nicolas Autet – Paris (+33 1 56 43 13 00, [email protected])
Susy Bullock – London (+44 (0) 20 7071 4283, [email protected])
Patrick Doris – London (+44 (0) 207 071 4276, [email protected])
Sacha Harber-Kelly – London (+44 (0) 20 7071 4205, [email protected])
Penny Madden – London (+44 (0) 20 7071 4226, [email protected])
Benno Schwarz – Munich (+49 89 189 33 110, [email protected])
Michael Walther – Munich (+49 89 189 33 180, [email protected])
Richard W. Roeder – Munich (+49 89 189 33 115, [email protected])

* Sean Brennan is a partner who works in the firm’s Washington, DC office and is currently admitted only in New York.

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Publicity for Lawyers: The attached materials have been prepared for general information purposes only and are not intended to be used as legal advice.

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