U.S. Customs Clears Malawi Imports

    Tobacco being prepared for export in Lilongwe. Photo: Taco Tuinstra

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) modified a withhold release order (WRO) such that tobacco imported from Malawi by Alliance One International will be admissible at all U.S. ports of entry effective June 3, 2020. CBP previously prevented these tobacco imports from entering the United States based on reasonable suspicion that they were produced using forced labor.

    CBP modified the WRO based on a rigorous evaluation of Alliance One International’s social compliance program and efforts to identify and minimize the risks of forced labor from its supply chain. These actions produced evidence that sufficiently supports Alliance One International’s claim that the tobacco produced and harvested from their farms does not use forced labor.

    The WRO continues to apply to imports of tobacco from Malawi by any company that has not demonstrated to CBP that there is no forced labor in its supply chain.

    “CBP recognizes the impact that withhold release orders have on importers and exporters, therefore we diligently work to carefully and thoroughly review petitions and admissibility requests,” said Brenda Smith, executive assistant commissioner of CBP’s office of trade. “If companies demonstrate that there is no forced labor in their supply chain, we will modify the withhold release order to exclude them.”