Forced Labor Sanctions in the Solar Industry – What You Need to Know

25 June 2021 Blog
Authors: Michael J. Walsh, Jr. Jeffery R. Atkin Vanessa L. Miller David W. Simon
Published To: Renewable Energy Outlook Dashboard Insights Manufacturing Industry Advisor
Yesterday, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) issued a Withhold Release Order (“WRO”) against Hoshine Silicon Industry Co. Ltd. , a company located in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (“XUAR”). The WRO has instructed personnel at all U.S. ports of entry to immediately begin to detain shipments containing silica-based products made by Hoshine and its subsidiaries. The WRO applies not only to silica-based products made by Hoshine and its subsidiaries but also to materials and goods derived from or produced using those silica-based products. CBP’s investigations into allegations of forced labor have produced six WROs this fiscal year. 

CBP’s move comes the day after the Department of Commerce placed Hoshine and four other companies operating out of the XUAR on its Entity List. The Department imposed a license requirement for all items subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and a license review policy of case-by-case review for certain Export Control Classification Numbers (ECCNs) and certain items designated as EAR99. The administration made clear at the G7 summit that it would take action to ensure global supply chains are free from the use of forced labor. We noted in March that the Biden administration would use all of the tools at its disposal to combat forced labor, and we continue to expect the pace and scope of enforcement to increase. 

Companies in the solar industry should take increasing care to ensure compliance programs are up to date, that new (and current) suppliers are carefully vetted, and supply chain audits are completed to their satisfaction. The State Department has recently noted that the employees of at least one supply chain auditor located in China were detained and interrogated for several days, and that supply chain audit companies are beginning to fear for their employees’ safety. If these allegations are credible, companies sourcing materials from China will need to reevaluate the effectiveness of their compliance programs and diligence procedures and, if they are dissatisfied with the results of their supply chain audits, consider sourcing from elsewhere. 

Companies doing business with Hoshine – particularly those who have shipments en-route to U.S. ports – should review their contracts for force majeure and other compliance provisions. Companies should also review their commercial project contracts to determine the impact of supply chain delays and determine compliance with relevant notice provisions. Companies importing silicon of any kind should evaluate whether they have sufficient tracing information to ensure compliance with the WRO. CBP will be on the lookout for potential transshipment attempts by Chinese companies, to try to evade the WRO. If your company acts as an importer of record, it will be held responsible for any such attempt, underscoring the importance of full-spectrum supply chain due diligence for the solar industry.

If you have any questions about these developments, please contact Mike Walsh, Jeff Atkin, Vanessa Miller, David Simon, or the Foley lawyer with whom you normally consult.
This blog is made available by Foley & Lardner LLP (“Foley” or “the Firm”) for informational purposes only. It is not meant to convey the Firm’s legal position on behalf of any client, nor is it intended to convey specific legal advice. Any opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Foley & Lardner LLP, its partners, or its clients. Accordingly, do not act upon this information without seeking counsel from a licensed attorney. This blog is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Communicating with Foley through this website by email, blog post, or otherwise, does not create an attorney-client relationship for any legal matter. Therefore, any communication or material you transmit to Foley through this blog, whether by email, blog post or any other manner, will not be treated as confidential or proprietary. The information on this blog is published “AS IS” and is not guaranteed to be complete, accurate, and or up-to-date. Foley makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, as to the operation or content of the site. Foley expressly disclaims all other guarantees, warranties, conditions and representations of any kind, either express or implied, whether arising under any statute, law, commercial use or otherwise, including implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Foley or any of its partners, officers, employees, agents or affiliates be liable, directly or indirectly, under any theory of law (contract, tort, negligence or otherwise), to you or anyone else, for any claims, losses or damages, direct, indirect special, incidental, punitive or consequential, resulting from or occasioned by the creation, use of or reliance on this site (including information and other content) or any third party websites or the information, resources or material accessed through any such websites. In some jurisdictions, the contents of this blog may be considered Attorney Advertising. If applicable, please note that prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Photographs are for dramatization purposes only and may include models. Likenesses do not necessarily imply current client, partnership or employee status.

Related Services