Trade Minister avoids question of whether Canada has curbed potential imports of forced labor from China


Mary Ng declined to say how many, if any, imports from the Xinjiang region Canadian authorities have intercepted since a crackdown was announced in January.

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OTTAWA – On Monday, Canada’s Minister of International Trade did not provide details on whether the federal government had banned the movement of goods imported from China suspected of using forced labor, months after Ottawa introduced measures supposed to put an end to this practice.

During committee testimony, Minister Mary Ng declined to answer questions from a Conservative MP on the amount, if any, of imports from China’s Xinjiang region, Canadian authorities have intercepted since the Liberal government announced it would crack down on the issue in January.

Ng gave no details of the situation and spoke only generally of the “comprehensive approach” adopted by the government. A spokesperson for the ministry said the government had “conducted proactive research” on the matter and would provide a report to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for it to take “protective action.” potential execution ”.

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Critics questioned the liberal government’s level of commitment to curb imports of cotton, tomatoes and other products from Xinjiang, saying measures introduced earlier this year lacked force and placed too much of a burden on importers. Canadian.

China has reportedly detained as many as a million Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang, some of whom were forced to work in factories. End Uyghur Forced Labor, a coalition group, estimates that up to one in five of cotton products like towels and clothing comes from the Xinjiang region. This group and others have called on Western allies to curb imports from the region.

In 2018, the Liberal government signed a treaty as part of the renegotiation of NAFTA that aims to crack down on the importation of products made by forced labor, which came into effect in mid-2020. To date, the CBSA has not yet enforced a tariff ban on any goods produced through forced labor, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada said.

On January 12, he announced new measures, some specifically targeting China. They demanded Canadian companies sign a declaration that they would not import products from the region that were known or suspected to come from forced labor, and created a business advisory group to “warn” private enterprises in the situation of workers in Xinjiang.

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  1.     Chinese Ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu.

    Chinese ambassador says Canada ‘interferes in our internal affairs’ before MPs vote on Uyghur genocide


  2. Canada, joining UK, restricts imports made by Chinese forced labor

The announcement was made on the same day Foreign Minister Marc Garneau took up his new post, replacing François-Philippe Champagne.

But critics say the measures have not gone far enough, especially because private companies lack access to the information needed to determine whether supply chains depend on forced labor. Chinese authorities, meanwhile, have dismissed the allegations about the labor camps in Xinjiang.

“The measures introduced on January 12 are not effective, they will not work,” said conservative foreign affairs spokesman Michael Chong.

“They haven’t put a lot of effort into thinking about or implementing these measures.”

Chong called on Canada to outright ban all imports of cotton and tomatoes from the region, arguing that border officials in Canada cannot distinguish between products that use forced labor.

Late last year, former US President Donald Trump blocked all cotton imports from Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a major producer in the region.

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US authorities and some private companies have started using new testing methods to determine whether their cotton inputs come from Xinjiang.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended his measures in March, saying they would “help businesses protect themselves” from purchasing forced labor products.

“We have acted in a way that provides additional support and the ability for Canadian companies to ensure that they are not involved in questionable supply chains there.

Last month, a Toronto Star report found that Canada had imported nearly 400 shipments of goods from the Xinjiang region that U.S. officials say came from Chinese manufacturers who use forced Uyghur labor. Another Globe and Mail report noted that online retailers in Canada continued to import shipments of towels, clothing and other products advertised as being made in Xinjiang.

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