The US said it will ban all shipments of palm oil from one of the world's biggest producers after finding indicators of forced labour and other abuses on plantations that feed into the supply chains of some of America’s most famous food and cosmetic companies.
The order against Malaysian-owned Sime Darby Plantation Berhad and its local subsidiaries, joint ventures, and affiliates followed an intensive months-long investigation by the US Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Trade, said Ana Hinojosa, one of the agency's executive directors.
Hinojosa said the investigation reasonably indicates abuses against workers that included physical and sexual violence, restriction of movement, intimidation and threats, debt bondage, withholding of wages and excessive overtime.
Some of the problems appeared to be systemic, occurring on numerous plantations, which stretch across wide swaths of the country, she said.
“Importers should know that there are reputational, financial and legal risks associated with importing goods made by forced labour into the United States, Hinojosa said in a telephone press briefing.
The order was announced just three months after the federal government slapped the same ban on another Malaysian palm oil giant, FGV Holdings Berhad — the first palm oil company ever targeted by Customs over concerns about forced labour.
The US imported USD 410 million of crude palm oil from Malaysia in fiscal year 2020, representing a third of the total value shipped in.
The bans, triggered by petitions filed by non-profit groups and a law firm, came in the wake of an in-depth investigation by The Associated Press into labour abuses on plantations in Malaysia and neighbouring Indonesia, which together produce about 85 per cent of the USD 65 billion supply of the world’s most consumed vegetable oil.
Artical By Indian Avaz