WASHINGTON, D.C. – The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade Vern Buchanan (R-FL) delivered the following opening statement at a Subcommittee Hearing on Enforcing the Ban on Imports Produced by Forced Labor in Xinjiang.
CLICK HERE to watch the hearing.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this important, bipartisan hearing on enforcing the ban on imports produced by forced labor in Xinjiang. And thank you to the witnesses here today for taking the time to testify and share your views.
“It is clear and irrefutable that China is committing large scale human rights abuses, including forced labor, against the Uighurs and other ethnic minorities. The Chinese Communist Party continues to deny this reality, but we must not. The U.S. must lead in condemning and confronting these horrific practices. Our most powerful tool is strictly enforcing our ban on products made with forced labor so that these products do not enter U.S. markets – and this is a bipartisan issue.
“This bipartisanship was on display in 2015 and 2016 when Congress strengthened the forced labor import ban by removing a longstanding exception to the ban through the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, led by then-Chairmen Paul Ryan and Kevin Brady, together with Representative Kind. It was further confirmed this year when Congress overwhelmingly voted to approve the USMCA, which created the forced labor enforcement task force. The Trump administration has also demonstrated a commitment to rigorously enforcing this prohibition by issuing 15 Withhold Release Orders since 2017 to halt imports of products made with forced labor.
“There is also intense support among U.S. stakeholders for this ban. A strong partnership with the private sector and civil society is essential to enhancing our ability to enforce this ban. Businesses, in cooperation with the government and civil society, must establish and strengthen best practices to tighten supply chains so they can confidently prevent their suppliers from utilizing forced labor or find new suppliers.
“At the same time, the laws must be enforced transparently, predictably, and fairly so that all stakeholders know what steps they must take to be in compliance. That means that all parties must share information about allegations of forced labor abuses so that they can be investigated and verified. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today about the challenges they are facing and how we can help them achieve these goals.
“Lastly, our trading partners must step up and follow our lead in condemning China and cracking down on imports of products made with forced labor. It’s no secret that China is willing to use all tools at its disposal to intimidate and punish countries that oppose its illegal and immoral human rights abuses. I understand the immense amount of economic power China can exert, but our allies must stand firm with us in condemning these appalling abuses.
“Mr. Chairman, I’m glad this is not a partisan issue. I know that we both strongly support a thorough, effective, and strictly enforced ban on imports of products made with forced labor to force China to end its terrible abuse of human rights.
“Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for calling this important hearing, and I look forward to the testimony from our witnesses.”
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