According to Supply Chain Dive, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) has issued a detention order on cotton originating from Turkmenistan due to concerns about the use of “state-orchestrated forced labor.”
The order, which effectively bans “all U.S. imports of [Turkmen] cotton or products made with [Turkmen] cotton,” comes two years after the International Labor Rights Forum petitioned the CPB, citing “overwhelming evidence [that Turkmen cotton is] produced with forced labor.”
And yes, “forced labor” is just another way of saying slavery.
While the amount of Turkmen cotton that gets directly imported into the U.S. is “relatively small” ($13.8 million worth in 2017), Turkmen cotton is also exported to places like China, India and Turkey, i.e. the countries that make pretty much all of America’s clothes.
As the story notes, “knowing the origin of a garment isn’t as simple as taking a look at the ‘made in’ label. While a T-shirt may be manufactured at a factory in Asia, the raw materials could come from all over the world.”
What’s more, “more than 80 countries worldwide produce cotton” and “spinners blend a lot of their cotton and mix it together from several different countries to maintain consistency and quality.” Which means apparel brands are going to have be extra diligent about their sourcing, “or they risk having their products turned away at the border.”
You can read more about it at Supply Chain Dive.