Mechandise, special classes: Products of forced or indentured child labor; prohibited importation and seizure,

 
CONTENT

[Federal Register: November 17, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 221)]

[Proposed Rules]

[Page 62618-62619]

From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[DOCID:fr17no99-21]

DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

Customs Service

19 CFR Part 12

RIN 1515-AC36

Forced or Indentured Child Labor

AGENCY: U.S. Customs Service, Department of the Treasury.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

SUMMARY: This document proposes to amend the Customs Regulations to provide for the seizure and forfeiture of merchandise that is found to be a prohibited importation under applicable Customs law concerning products of convict labor, forced labor, or indentured labor under penal sanctions. Furthermore, this document proposes to amend the Customs Regulations to make clear that nothing in those regulations precludes Customs from seizing for forfeiture merchandise imported in violation of applicable Federal criminal law dealing with prison-labor goods. The proposed amendments are intended to stop illegal shipments of products of forced or indentured child labor and to punish violators.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before January 18, 2000.

ADDRESSES: Written comments may be addressed to and inspected at the Regulations Branch, U.S. Customs Service, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, 3rd Floor, Washington, DC 20229.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Glen E. Vereb, Office of Regulations and Rulings, 202-927-2320.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1307), generally prohibits the importation of goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in any foreign country by convict labor or/and forced labor or/and indentured labor under penal sanctions. Such prohibitions are enforced by Customs under Secs. 12.42--12.44 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR 12.42--12.44).

If Customs finds, on the basis of information presented and investigated under the procedures described in Sec. 12.42(a)-(e), that a class of merchandise is subject to the prohibition under section 307, the Commissioner of Customs, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, will publish a finding to this effect in the weekly issue of the Customs Bulletin and in the Federal Register, as prescribed in Sec. 12.42(f).

Under Sec. 12.43, an importer is afforded the opportunity to furnish proof within 3 months after importation in order to establish the admissibility of particular imported merchandise detained by Customs under Sec. 12.42(e) or covered by a finding under Sec. 12.42(f), that the particular merchandise being imported is not itself produced with the use of a type of labor specified in section 307.

Section 12.44 deals with the disposition of merchandise determined to be inadmissible under section 307. Currently, Sec. 12.44 provides in pertinent part that such merchandise (1) may be exported at any time within the 3-month period after importation or (2) if not so exported and if no proof of admissibility has been provided, the importer is advised in writing that the merchandise is excluded from entry and, 60 days thereafter, the merchandise is deemed abandoned and will be destroyed unless a protest is filedunder 19 U.S.C. 1514.

Forced or Indentured Child Labor

A general provision in the Fiscal Year (FY) 1998 Treasury Appropriations Act made clear what is implicit in the law: that merchandise manufactured with the use of forced or indentured child labor falls within the prohibition of section 1307. This Act requires that Customs not use any of the appropriation to permit the importation into the United States of such merchandise.

Following the enactment of the FY 1998 appropriations amendment regarding forced or indentured child labor, both the Treasury Department and the National Economic Council chaired in-depth interagency discussions aimed at strengthening the capability of the Executive Branch to enforce the prohibition on forced or indentured child labor imports.

To this end, the Treasury Department, by a document published in the Federal Register on June 5, 1998 (63 FR 30813), proposed the establishment of a Treasury Advisory Committee on International Child Labor Enforcement, whose ultimate purpose is to support a vigorous law enforcement initiative to stop illegal shipments of products of forced or indentured child labor and to punish violators.

Proposed Amendment

Accordingly, as part of the foregoing initiative, Customs proposes to amend Sec. 12.44 regarding the disposition to be accorded merchandise that is a prohibited importation under section 307.

Specifically, under the proposed amendment, in the case of merchandise covered by a finding under Sec. 12.42(f), if the Commissioner of Customs advises the port director that the proof furnished under Sec. 12.43 does not establish the admissibility of a particular importation of such merchandise, or if no proof is furnished in this regard, the merchandise will then be seized and subject to the commencement of forfeiture proceedings under subpart E of part 162 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR part 162, subpart E). Currently, such merchandise is permitted to be exported at any time before it is deemed to have been abandoned.

Also, Customs further proposes to amend Sec. 12.44 to state expressly that nothing in the Customs Regulations (19 CFR Chapter I) precludes Customs from seizing for forfeiture merchandise imported in violation of applicable Federal criminal law (18 U.S.C. 1761--1762) dealing with prison-labor goods.

Comments

Before adopting this proposal as a final rule, consideration will be given to any written comments that are timely submitted to Customs. Comments submitted will be available for public inspection in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552), Sec. 1.4, Treasury Department Regulations (31 CFR 1.4), and Sec. 103.11(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 103.11(b)), on regular business days between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the Regulations Branch, U.S. Customs Service, 1300 Pennsylvania

[[Page 62619]]

Avenue, NW, 3rd Floor, Washington, DC.

Regulatory Flexibility Act and Executive Order 12866

Because the importation of goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced or manufactured wholly or in part in any foreign country by forced labor is prohibited, Customs anticipates that there will not be a substantial number of small entities that would become involved in a prohibited importation. The rule applies to products subject to a ``finding'' that the class of merchandise was produced with forced or indentured child labor, a more formal Customs action with a higher burden of proof than simple Customs detention of merchandise based on reasonable suspicion. Also the range of countries and products which are likely to be implicated in forced or indentured child labor findings is likely to be fairly narrow. Accordingly, it is certified, in accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) that, if adopted, the proposed rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Nor does the document meet the criteria for a ``significant regulatory action'' as specified in E.O. 12866.

List of Subjects in 19 CFR Part 12

Customs duties and inspection, Entry of merchandise, Imports, Prohibited merchandise, Restricted merchandise, Seizure and forfeiture.

Proposed Amendments to the Regulations

It is proposed to amend part 12, Customs Regulations (19 CFR part 12), as set forth below.

PART 12--SPECIAL CLASSES OF MERCHANDISE

  1. The general authority citation for part 12 would continue to read as follows, and the relevant specific sectional authority would be revised to read as follows:

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; 19 U.S.C. 66, 1202 (General Note 20, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS)), 1624; * * * * *

    Sections 12.42 through 12.44 also issued under 19 U.S.C. 1307 and Pub. L. 105-61 (111 Stat. 1272); * * * * *

  2. It is proposed to amend Sec. 12.42 by revising the first sentence of paragraph (a) to read as follows:

    Sec. 12.42 Findings of Commissioner of Customs.

    (a) If any port director or other principal Customs officer has reason to believe that any class of merchandise which is being, or is likely to be, imported into the United States is being produced, whether by mining, manufacture, or other means, in any foreign locality with the use of convict labor, forced labor, or indentured labor under penal sanctions, including forced or indentured child labor, so as to come within the purview of section 307, Tariff Act of 1930, he shall communicate his belief to the Commissioner of Customs. * * * * * * * *

  3. It is proposed to revise Sec. 12.44 to read as follows:

    Sec. 12.44 Disposition.

    (a) Seizure and summary forfeiture. In the case of merchandise covered by a finding under Sec. 12.42(f), if the Commissioner of Customs advises the port director that the proof furnished under Sec. 12.43 does not establish the admissibility of the merchandise, or if no proof has been furnished, the port director shall seize the merchandise for violation of 19 U.S.C. 1307 and commence forfeiture proceedings pursuant to part 162, subpart E, of this chapter.

    (b) Prison-labor goods. Nothing in this chapter precludes Customs from seizing for forfeiture merchandise imported in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1761 and 1762 concerning prison-labor goods.

    Approved: August 12, 1999. Raymond W. Kelly, Commissioner of Customs. John P. Simpson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury.

    [FR Doc. 99-29928Filed11-16-99; 8:45 am]

    BILLING CODE 4820-02-P