US bans WRP's Malaysia-made gloves amid forced labour allegations

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KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 2): The US has banned the import of disposable rubber gloves produced in Malaysia by WRP Asia Pacific Sdn Bhd, which is alleged to have manufactured these items using forced labour.

In a media statement on Tuesday (Oct 1), the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said it had issued WRP a withhold release order (WRO).

"This action was based on information obtained and reviewed by CBP that indicates that the products are produced, in whole or in part, using forced labour.

"The Forced Labor Division within CBP's Office of Trade leads agency enforcement efforts prohibiting the importation of goods made using forced labour. CBP receives allegations of forced labour from a variety of sources, including from the general public.

"Under US law, it is illegal to import goods into the US that are made wholly or in part by forced labour, which includes convict labour, indentured labour, and forced or indentured child labour. When sufficient information is available, CBP may detain goods believed to have been produced with forced labour by issuing a WRO. Importers have the opportunity to either re-export the detained shipments at any time or to submit information to CBP demonstrating that the goods are not in violation," the CBP said.

At the time of writing, WRP had not issued a statement on the CBP's allegations.

WRP claims on its website the company is one of the world's leading manufacturers of surgical, examination, high-risk and multi-purpose gloves with worldwide coverage in every key market sector. "Our Malaysia-based factories meet and exceed the most stringent international quality and product standards, giving us the ability to serve virtually any country around the world," it said.

The CBP's statement did not mention any other Malaysian glovemakers apart from WRP.

The CBP said WRP's WRO is among five WROs issued on Monday (Sept 30) by the regulator.

CBP said the following WROs are effective immediately:

"Garments produced by Hetian Taida Apparel Co., Ltd. in Xinjiang, China; produced with prison or forced labour.

"Disposable rubber gloves produced in Malaysia by WRP Asia Pacific Sdn. Bhd.; produced with forced labor.

"Gold mined in artisanal small mines in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); mined from forced labour.

"Rough diamonds from the Marange Diamond Fields in Zimbabwe; mined from forced labour.

"Bone black manufactured in Brazil by Bonechar Carvão Ativado Do Brasil Ltda; produced with forced labour."