MEXICO CITY, Oct.22 (Reuters) – The Mexican government on Friday said it had set up a task force to investigate allegations of forced labor at two tomato export companies, after US Customs and Border Protection (CBP ) said it would ban imports from these companies.
CBP said in a statement on Thursday that effective October 21, its agents at all U.S. ports of entry will detain fresh tomatoes produced by the tomato farm Agropecuarios Tom SA de CV and Horticola SA de CV, and their subsidiaries. .
CBP has issued a restraining order against Agropecuarios, Horticola and their subsidiaries based on information that reasonably indicates the use of forced labor against its workers.
The Mexican Ministry of Labor said it had asked the Ministry of the Economy to open a channel of communication with companies, in coordination with the National Council of Agriculture, and to conduct the corresponding investigations.
“If a violation of labor regulations is identified, a plan is drawn up to ensure the protection of workers’ rights,” the labor ministry said.
Following the CBP order, “tomato companies have the right to appeal the decision to US customs authorities and present evidence demonstrating their compliance with labor regulations, so that the sanction can be lifted,” said added the ministry.
The administration of US President Joe Biden has said addressing forced labor allegations is a priority in its trade relations with Mexico.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on Wednesday that the administration wanted to clarify “that products made in whole or in part by forced labor will not be allowed in the United States … We will remove them from the chains of ‘American supply’.
The International Labor Organization estimates that 25 million workers suffer from forced labor conditions around the world, according to the Biden administration. (Report by Anthony Esposito and Adriana Barrera, edited by Sandra Maler)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.