WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) pressed the Chinese fast fashion company SHEIN for answers following reports that their products are made with cotton from Chinese slave labor. They called on SHEIN to increase transparency on their supply chains.
“We are concerned that American consumers may be inadvertently purchasing apparel made in-part with cotton grown, picked, and processed using forced labor,” wrote the senators.
“Xinjiang’s cotton lint production provides for over 85 percent of China’s total cotton production and 20 percent of global output,” continued the senators. “Considering SHEIN’s large, decentralized network of suppliers, we are concerned that cotton fibers harvested in Xinjiang with forced labor may have entered SHEIN’s supply chains.”
The senators are seeking more information to understand SHEIN’s ties to Chinese supply chains in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Forced labor products should be stopped at the border and never make their way to American shelves. They should be subject to customs scrutiny regardless of the channel through which they are shipped.
Read the full letter here or below.
Dear Mr. Xu,
We write to you regarding recent reporting that SHEIN branded garments are made in-part with cotton from China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR). We are concerned that American consumers may be inadvertently purchasing apparel made in-part with cotton grown, picked, and processed using forced labor. We are also concerned that SHEIN may be pursuing a strategy to price shipments under de minimis value to minimize exposure to U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspection to avoid scrutiny under Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930.
For nearly a century, Section 307 has prohibited importing into the U.S. any product mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part by forced labor. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), which was signed into law on December 23, 2021 and import provisions went into effect on June 21, 2022, expanded those prohibitions to ensure U.S. consumers were not underwriting gross violations of human rights. It established a rebuttable presumption that the importation of any goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China, or produced by certain entities linked to Xinjiang’s forced labor programs, is prohibited by Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 and that such goods, wares, articles, and merchandise are prohibited from entry to the United States. This includes finished products with any inputs made in Xinjiang.
Cotton is designated as a “high priority sector” in statute for enforcement. Xinjiang’s cotton lint production provides for over 85 percent of China’s total cotton production and 20 percent of global output. Considering SHEIN’s large, decentralized network of suppliers, we are concerned that cotton fibers harvested in Xinjiang with forced labor may have entered SHEIN’s supply chains. A Bloomberg analysis in November 2022 found that “Laboratory testing conducted for Bloomberg News on two occasions this year found that garments shipped to the US by Shein were made with cotton from China’s Xinjiang region,” and the CEO of the lab that conducted the analysis concluded that “it is a typical sample from Xinjiang, China.”
In response to these concerns, we would appreciate answers to our questions to assist us in better understanding SHEIN’s ties to supply chains in Xinjiang. We would appreciate a response within the next 30 days to assist in our oversight of Section 307 and Section 321 of the Tariff Act of 1930:
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions regarding SHEIN’s production and sales to the United States. I look forward to hearing from you.