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US Senate probe finds forced labor ties in automakers’ imports

US Senate probe finds forced labor ties in automakers' imports
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A US congressional investigation released Monday found that carmakers BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and Volkswagen had used components from a Chinese supplier banned in the United States over alleged forced labor ties.

The report by the Senate Finance Committee said BMW had produced and imported vehicles with parts “presumptively made with forced labor,” while Jaguar Land Rover imported parts with the same issues.

VW made vehicles for the US market with such components too, and has “ongoing business ties” to manufacturing in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, the report said.

Beijing has been accused of incarcerating over one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in a network of detention facilities in Xinjiang — although officials strongly deny this.

In the United States, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) bans the import of all goods from Xinjiang unless companies offer verifiable proof that production did not involve forced labor.

“Automakers’ self-policing is clearly not doing the job,” said the Senate Finance Committee’s Democratic chairman Ron Wyden at the end of the two-year probe.

In a statement, he called on US customs officials to boost enforcement and “crack down on companies that fuel the shameful use of forced labor in China.”

The latest report looks into components from Sichuan Jingweida Technology Group Co, a firm added to the UFLPA entity list in 2023 over participation in business practices said to target members of persecuted groups like Uyghurs in China.

A supplier to the automakers was found to have sourced components from Jingweida, meaning these parts were barred from vehicles bound for the US market.

Volkswagen disclosed earlier this year that a shipment of its vehicles for the United States included parts made by a blacklisted supplier.

But “committee staff discovered that BMW imported thousands of vehicles intended for the United States that included parts banned under UFLPA,” the committee said.

It said BMW disclosed after questioning from the committee that at least 8,000 Mini Cooper cars containing such components were shipped to the country.

“BMW continued to import products manufactured by JWD until at least April 2024,” said the report, referring to Jingweida.

Jaguar Land Rover initially said it was unaware of its links to the banned supplier, and BMW said Jingweida was not on its supplier list.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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