US imposes import ban on tomato products from Xinjiang, China

Published Jan 18, 2021
An import ban by the US government has been placed on all tomato products from the Xinjiang region in China . The ban is a reaction to recent allegations that tomato products in the region are produced using forced labour from detained Uighur muslims. The ban applies to canned tomatoes, sauces, seeds and all other tomato products grown, processed and manufactured in Xinjiang province.

Effects of the controversial encampment of Uighur Muslims

Reports estimate that about 1 million to 3 million Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other minority groups are being detained in camps. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has claimed that China has forced its detainees in these camps to provide forced labor without compensation. The Chinese government, in its defense, claims that these accusations are false and iterates that the actions taken have been a means of combating terrorism and religious extremism. It reports that the camps have been designed for the purpose of political re-education for Uighur Muslims, who are then helped to secure employment.

(Facility believed to be a re-education camp in Artux, north of Kashgar in China’s western Xinjiang region.)

Source: Greg Baker/AFP

As a result, the CBP has issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) to stop all shipments of tomato products produced in China’s Xinjiang Province. This is the second WRO that the CBP has issued in 2021 on products originating from Xinjiang, with the province accounting for 8 of the 13 WRO’s issued by the CBP in 2020. The British government has also weighed in, announcing that it will take action against organizations that are part of Xinjiang’s supply chains.

Impact on tomato product trade between China and the US

Based on last year's data, the US imported USD 10 million of tomatoes from China. Xinjiang is China and Asia's largest tomato production and processing region, producing a quarter of the world’s ketchup and generating close to 70% of China’s total tomato shipments. Tomatoes are also the largest export commodity in Xinjiang, with an annual value in excess of USD 500 million. China is also the leading explorer of tomato paste, accounting for approximately 40% of the global trade. As a result, the ban is set to have a major impact on the province, which is China’s tomato growing hub. All goods coming into US ports of entry are to be detained by Customs agents, and importers and consumers have been urged to pay attention to manufactured origins when purchasing goods from China, so as to ensure that they do not purchase tomato products from Xinjiang province.

(Tomato Farming in Xinjiang)

Source: Xinhua Net

Sources:

Independent. “US bans all cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang over slave labour links.” 

ABC News. “US bans all cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang over slave labor.” 

KPTV - FOX 12. “US bans cotton and tomato products from China's Xinjiang region over forced labor concerns.” 

Reuters. “U.S. bans imports of all cotton, tomato products from China's Xinjiang region.” 

Bloomberg. “U.S. Bans Xinjiang Cotton Products, Tomatoes Over Forced Labor.” 

Xinhuanet. “Tomatoes enter mature season in NW China's Xinjiang.” 

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