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Grassley Q & A

December 11, 2009
Northern-Sun Print
Grassley Q&A: Improving Labor Protections for U.S. Imports Q: Is it illegal to import goods made by forced labor, including forced child labor, into the United States? A: Current law prohibits the entry of goods into the United States if they were made from convict labor or forced or indentured labor, including forced or indentured child labor. Even so, the law includes an exception which potentially allows goods to enter the United States despite such practices. This law, which dates back to the 1930s, permits the importation of such goods if production in the United States is insufficient to meet demand for that good. Q: Are you working to strengthen these labor protections? A: As Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade policy, I’ve worked with Chairman Max Baucus of Montana and Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota to develop and introduce legislation to strengthen labor protections. Our bipartisan legislation repeals the carveout in current law, making it illegal to import any good made with forced labor, including forced child labor. It also expands the prohibition to cover goods made by means of coercion or by people who were subjected to severe forms of trafficking, such as sex trafficking or the recruitment or transportation of a person for debt bondage. In addition, our legislation establishes a new office to coordinate federal efforts to enforce these prohibitions. New civil penalties are also added for violating these prohibitions, on top of the civil and criminal penalties already provided for under current law. Q: How will you continue to work on this important issue? A: I will continue to use my position as Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee to advocate for this reform to ensure that goods made with forced child labor are prohibited from entering the United States. The Chairman and I are committed to pushing this legislation through the legislative process and seeing it enacted into law next year.


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