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Volkswagen Cars Blocked by US Customs Over Part From China

FILE - People walk past an ID. Store X showroom of SAIC Volkswagen in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China, Jan. 10, 2021.
FILE - People walk past an ID. Store X showroom of SAIC Volkswagen in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China, Jan. 10, 2021.

German automaker Volkswagen said Wednesday several of its models had been refused entry into the United States, after it emerged that a Chinese-made component may have breached labor laws.

"We are working to rectify a delay in delivering certain Volkswagen Group vehicles from ports to dealers due to a customs issue," Volkswagen said in a statement.

The trouble related to a "small electronic component," which was "in the process of being replaced," Volkswagen said.

The part, said to be from "western China," was found to be in breach of U.S. anti-forced labor laws, according to the Financial Times, which reported the news first. The Financial Times said Porsche, Bentley and Audi models were affected.

According to the report, Volkswagen was not aware of the origin of the part, having sourced it from a supplier.

The German auto group was made aware of the issue by a supplier and notified U.S. authorities, per the report.

Volkswagen said it "takes allegations of infringements of human rights very seriously, both within the company and in the supply chain."

"As soon as we received information of allegations regarding one of our sub-suppliers, we have been investigating the matter," the group said.

The United States has banned most imports from Xinjiang, in western China, unless companies offer verifiable proof that production did not involve forced labor.

Rights campaigners have for years accused Beijing of a brutal crackdown against the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, including through forced labor and detention camps. Beijing denies the allegations of abuse.

The issue of forced labor is acutely sensitive for Volkswagen, which has long been plagued by questions over its factory in the region, operated by its local partner SAIC.

Earlier on Wednesday, Volkswagen said it was discussing the future of its activities in China's troubled Xinjiang province, after the Handelsblatt daily reported that forced labor may have been used to build a test track in Turpan, Xinjiang.

VW said it had seen no evidence of human rights violations in connection with the project but that it would likewise investigate any new information that came to light.