Since Washington enacted anti-slave labor rules, a bottleneck of solar shipments from China to the U.S. has been accumulating at the border.

According to Reuters, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has taken hold of 1,053 shipments of solar energy equipment from June 21 to October 25. The goods are awaiting relevant documents from producers to prove that they are not products of slave labor origin.

The CBP does not confirm who the producers were or the specific quantity of the equipment to protect trade secrets. But sources told Reuters the shipments mainly came from three Chinese manufacturers, Longi Green Energy Technology, Trina Solar, and Jinko Solar.

Among the seized products are panels and polysilicon cells with a potential capacity of up to 1 gigawatt. The people added that the three companies have stopped sending new shipments to the U.S. as they expect more cargo to be held up.

Jinko said it is working with the CBP to sort out documents that prove the products are not tainted with slave labor. The Shanghai-based firm is confident the shipments will be permitted to pass through.

Longi and Trina did not comment on the matter.

Most of the polysilicon used by Longi, Trina, and Jinko is procured from American and European vendors, including Wacker Chemie in Germany and Hemlock Semiconductor, a Michigan joint venture between Corning and Shin-Etsu Handotai.

A Wacker spokesperson ensures that the products used in their supply chain are made in a manner that respects human rights.

CBP spokesperson Rhonda Lawson said the vetting process depends on how fast an importer can submit sufficient documentation.

Slave labor in China often ties to extreme torture and genocide. Victims are primarily Muslim minorities and prisoners of conscience. China’s Xinjiang region has become the most notorious area. Unfortunately, 45% of the world’s polysilicon also comes from there.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act aims to protect the U.S. market from products made of forced labor. Enacted on June 21, all imports from China’s Xinjiang region must undergo careful origin scans before being approved.

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