EU to Ban Forced Labour Products

September 12, 2022

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The European Commission (the “EC”) is expected to announce a proposal shortly that will ban products made using forced labour. The move follows a public consultation earlier this year by the EC seeking public opinion on an initiative “to keep the EU market free from products made, extracted or harvested with forced labour, whether they are made in the EU or elsewhere in the world.”[1] The proposal could have a significant impact on corporates’ supply chain management and approach to human rights due diligence; areas which are already under close scrutiny by the EU.

While the EU’s proposal has not yet been released, several media outlets report to have seen an EU document which states that a ban should apply to products (including their components) for which forced labour has been used at any stage of production, manufacture, harvest or extraction, including working or processing.

The proposed prohibition is also expected to apply regardless of the origin of the products, whether they are domestic or imported, or placed or made available on the EU market or exported outside of the EU.

It is understood that each EU member state will be responsible for detection and enforcement and that national authorities will be tasked with proving that relevant products were made or processed using forced labour. At least one report suggests that a database of forced labour risk in specific geographic areas or specific products made with forced labour imposed by state authorities will be set up and made available to the public as part of implementation.

A step further than the U.S.

The enactment of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (the “UFLPA”) on 21 June, 2022, introduced a presumptive ban on all imports to the U.S. from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (the “XUAR”) and from certain entities designated by the U.S. Department Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection. The UFLPA’s presumptive ban modified Section 307 of the U.S. Tariff Act of 1930, which generally bans the importation of any products mined, produced or manufactured wholly or in part by forced or indentured child labour.

While the EU will follow the U.S. in legislating to end forced labour practices, it appears that the geographic scope of the EU proposal will be broader than current U.S. law, because it also applies internally to products made within the EU.

Next steps

Details of the proposal will need to be addressed with lawmakers and EU countries, but the intended prohibition looks set to be sweeping and significant. We will monitor these developments and provide further details as the draft law evolves.



The following Gibson Dunn lawyers prepared this client alert: Susy Bullock, Perlette Jura, Christopher Timura, Sean J. Brennan*, and Rebecca McGrath.

Gibson Dunn’s lawyers are available to assist in addressing any questions you may have regarding these developments. Please contact the Gibson Dunn lawyer with whom you usually work, the authors, or the following members and leaders of the firm’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) or International Trade practice groups:

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Group:
Susy Bullock – London (+44 (0) 20 7071 4283, [email protected])
Elizabeth Ising – Washington, D.C. (+1 202-955-8287, [email protected])
Perlette M. Jura – Los Angeles (+1 213-229-7121, [email protected])
Ronald Kirk – Dallas (+1 214-698-3295, [email protected])
Michael K. Murphy – Washington, D.C. (+1 202-955-8238, [email protected])
Selina S. Sagayam – London (+44 (0) 20 7071 4263, [email protected])
Rebecca McGrath – London (+44 (0) 20 7071 4219, [email protected])

International Trade Group:

United States
Judith Alison Lee – Co-Chair, International Trade Practice, Washington, D.C. (+1 202-887-3591, [email protected])
Ronald Kirk – Co-Chair, International Trade Practice, Dallas (+1 214-698-3295, [email protected])
Courtney M. Brown – Washington, D.C. (+1 202-955-8685, [email protected])
David P. Burns – Washington, D.C. (+1 202-887-3786, [email protected])
Stephenie Gosnell Handler – Washington, D.C. (+1 202-955-8510, [email protected])
Nicola T. Hanna – Los Angeles (+1 213-229-7269, [email protected])
Marcellus A. McRae – Los Angeles (+1 213-229-7675, [email protected])
Adam M. Smith – Washington, D.C. (+1 202-887-3547, [email protected])
Christopher T. Timura – Washington, D.C. (+1 202-887-3690, [email protected])
Annie Motto – Washington, D.C. (+1 212-351-3803, [email protected])
Chris R. Mullen – Washington, D.C. (+1 202-955-8250, [email protected])
Samantha Sewall – Washington, D.C. (+1 202-887-3509, [email protected])
Audi K. Syarief – Washington, D.C. (+1 202-955-8266, [email protected])
Scott R. Toussaint – Washington, D.C. (+1 202-887-3588, [email protected])
Shuo (Josh) Zhang – Washington, D.C. (+1 202-955-8270, [email protected])

Kelly Austin – Hong Kong (+852 2214 3788, [email protected])
David A. Wolber – Hong Kong (+852 2214 3764, [email protected])
Fang Xue – Beijing (+86 10 6502 8687, [email protected])
Qi Yue – Beijing – (+86 10 6502 8534, [email protected])

Attila Borsos – Brussels (+32 2 554 72 10, [email protected])
Nicolas Autet – Paris (+33 1 56 43 13 00, [email protected])
Susy Bullock – London (+44 (0) 20 7071 4283, [email protected])
Patrick Doris – London (+44 (0) 207 071 4276, [email protected])
Sacha Harber-Kelly – London (+44 (0) 20 7071 4205, [email protected])
Penny Madden – London (+44 (0) 20 7071 4226, [email protected])
Benno Schwarz – Munich (+49 89 189 33 110, [email protected])
Michael Walther – Munich (+49 89 189 33 180, [email protected])
Richard W. Roeder – Munich (+49 89 189 33 115, [email protected])

* Sean Brennan is an associate working in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office who currently is admitted only in New York.

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