US bans Zim diamonds

THE United States of America yesterday issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) for artisanal rough cut diamonds from Marange on allegations that they were produced using forced labour as problems continue to mount on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

By Everson Mushava

According to a statement released by the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) , diamonds from Zimbabwe, still battling sanctions from the world’s economic power house, have been listed.

China, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Malaysia companies were also victims of the raid covering five different products, imported from five different countries.

According to the statement, the action was based on information obtained and reviewed by CBP that indicates that the products were produced, in whole or in part, using forced labour.

“A major part of CBP’s mission is facilitating legitimate trade and travel,” said acting CBP commissioner Mark Morgan.

“CBP’s issuing of these five withhold release orders shows that if we suspect a product is made using forced labour, we will take that product off US shelves.”

Under US law, the statement read, it is illegal to import goods into the US that are made wholly or in part by forced labour, which includes convict, indentured and forced labour once information is available linking companies to the listed practice.

The importers will, however, 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.

Hetian Taida Apparel of Xinjiang, China, has been accused of producing garments using prison or forced labour while Malaysia’s WRP Asia Pacific has been accused of producing rubber gloves using forced labour.

Gold produced in artisanal small mines in eastern DRC has been linked to forced labour.

Zimbabwe has been on US sanctions for almost two decades and Mnangagwa has accused the embargoes for the deteriorating economic situation in the country.

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