U.S. Bans Malaysian Palm Oil Producer for Forced Labor

U.S. Bans Malaysian Palm Oil Producer for Forced Labor

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has blocked the import of palm oil from a Malaysian producer | #Blocked the import of palm oil from a Malaysian producer | after an investigation found revelations of forced labor and other abuses in the palm oil industry.
All shipments from the producer, FGV Holdings, will be held at U.S. entry ports. The CBP cited physical and sexual abuse, debt bondage, and abusive conditions as the reason for blocking the shipments.
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FGV Claims “Concrete Steps” to Improve Conditions
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FGV has stated that it has taken “concrete steps” to improve workers’ conditions.
For its part, FGV expressed that it is disappointed in the decision. "It is worth reiterating that FGV does not tolerate any form of human rights infringements or criminal offense in its operations," FGV said.
According to FGV, it has strengthened hiring procedures and invested about $84 million in order to upgrade facilities for housing on the plantations. FGV claims to have installed 32,000 “safety boxes” throughout all 68 complexes to help workers secure their documents.
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Investigation Finds Forced Labor, Violence
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However, the CBP has said that a year-long investigation into the palm oil industry | Learn more on Commonshare | revealed  "restriction of movement, isolation, physical and sexual violence, intimidation and threats, retention of identity documents, withholding of wages, debt bondage, abusive working and living conditions, and excessive overtime."
Another concern is the possibility that forced child labor is being used in the palm oil production process.
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Palm Oil is Everywhere
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FGV is a publicly-listed company, and according to the company’s own website it is responsible for about 15% of Malaysia’s annual production of crude palm oil.
Palm oil | Learn more on Commonshare | is widespread across numerous industries: it is found in numerous food products | Learn more on Commonshare |, in cosmetics, in pharmaceuticals, and in biofuels.
As Brenda Smith, executive assistant commissioner of CBP’s Office of Trade, explains, the use of forced labor “in the production of such a ubiquitous product allows companies to profit from the abuse of vulnerable workers.”
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Import Bans and Concerns
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Since 2016, the U.S. has increased its use of import bans, after a change in American law renewed the CBP’s ability to act against products made with forced labor.
This is not the first time that concerns have been voiced about FGV’s labor practices. In January, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil suspended the sustainability certification process for some of FGV’s plantations.
It also reimposed a suspension of its certification for GV's Kilang Sawit Serting facility, previously suspended two years earlier over labor concerns, though that decision was reversed.
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Blocked the import of palm oil from a Malaysian producer | https://www.bbc.com/news/business-54366607 |: source from bbc website

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