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US Customs Seizes Malaysian Firm’s Medical Gloves After Forced Labor Finding

A worker inspects disposable gloves at the Top Glove factory in Shah Alam on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Aug. 26, 2020.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has seized a shipment of 3.97 million nitrile disposable gloves estimated to be worth about $518,000 from Malaysia's Top Glove Corp. on indications they were made by forced labor, it said Wednesday.

CBP on March 29 issued a forced labor finding based on evidence of multiple forced labor indicators in the world's largest medical glove maker's production process.

It had initially banned products from two of Top Glove's subsidiaries in July but extended the ban to all the manufacturer's products made in Malaysia in March.

The indicators included debt bondage, excessive overtime, abusive working and living conditions, and retention of identity documents, the CBP said in a statement.

The agency then directed personnel at all U.S. ports of entry to begin seizing disposable gloves produced in Malaysia by the glove maker.

"CBP continues to facilitate the importation of legitimate PPE needed for the COVID-19 pandemic while ensuring that the PPE is authorized and safe for use," said Cleveland Area Port Director Diann Rodriguez, referring to personal protective equipment.

Top Glove said last month its glove production has been affected because of the U.S. ban, and it announced last week it had resolved all indicators of forced labor in its operations, citing a report by the ethical trade consultancy it hired.