US Customs issues seize order on Top Glove products after forced labour finding

US Customs issues seize order on Top Glove products after forced labour finding

KUALA LUMPUR (March 29): The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced today that it has directed personnel at all US ports of entry to begin seizing disposable gloves produced in Malaysia by Top Glove Corp Bhd.

The directive came after the CBP Office of Trade, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, published a forced labour finding against disposable gloves produced by Top Glove, in which the CBP said it has sufficient information to believe Top Glove uses forced labour in the production of disposable gloves.

“Today’s forced labour finding is the result of a months-long CBP investigation aimed at preventing goods made by modern slavery from entering US commerce,” said Troy Miller, senior official performing the duties of the CBP Commissioner, in a press statement. “CBP will not tolerate foreign companies’ exploitation of vulnerable workers to sell cheap, unethically-made goods to American consumers,” he added.

The CBP will ensure this enforcement action will not have a significant impact on total US imports of disposable gloves, said CBP acting executive assistant commissioner for trade, John Leonard.

In a notice published earlier today, the US regulator said certain disposable gloves had been “mined, produced or manufactured in Malaysia by Top Glove Corp Bhd with the use of convict, forced or indentured labour, and are being, or are likely to be imported into the US”. It cited Section 307 of the Tariff Act 1930, which states that products produced using these kinds of labour shall not be entitled entry at any US ports.

The finding expands upon a Withhold Release Order (WRO) that CBP issued on gloves manufactured by Top Glove in July 2020. "That WRO was based on reasonable but not conclusive information that multiple forced labour indicators exist in Top Glove’s production process, including debt bondage, excessive overtime, abusive working and living conditions, and retention of identity documents," the CBP's statement read.

Earlier this month, Top Glove said an independent consultant found no systemic forced labour within the group as of January. The glove maker had appointed the consultant to verify corrective action plans it implemented to eliminate the presence of forced labour indicators from its practices.

At the time, Top Glove also said it was following up closely with the CBP and working towards an expeditious resolution and revocation of the WRO issued against products from Top Glove's subsidiaries Top Glove Sdn Bhd and TG Medical Sdn Bhd, following the allegations of forced labour.

Top Glove shares closed 10 sen lower at RM5.05 today, giving it a market capitalisation of RM39.40 billion.