US loosens on Malawi tobacco

Post was last updated: June 16, 2020

Kaisi Sadala

The United States (US) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has eased up on exportation of Malawi tobacco into that country following an announcement that one of the local buyers, Alliance One International, will be accorded entry of the crop.

This is good news for Malawi which was anticipating loss of 8 percent of its tobacco markets in the current season, which is provided by the US.

This comes against a background of the CBP issuing a Withhold and Release Order (WRO) on November 1, 2019, on all tobacco and related products from Malawi, detaining such products at all US ports of entry.

The CBP said it has modified the WRO such that tobacco imported from Malawi by Alliance One will be admissible at all US ports of entry effective June 3, 2020.

It said the CBP modified the WRO based on a rigorous evaluation of Alliance One International’s social compliance program and efforts to identify and minimize the risks of forced labor from its supply chain.

However, the WRO continues to apply to imports of tobacco from Malawi by any company that has not demonstrated to CBP that there is no forced labour in its supply chain.

“CBP recognises the impact that the withhold release orders have on importers and exporters, therefore we diligently work to carefully and thoroughly review petitions and admissibility requests. If companies demonstrate that there is no forced labour in their supply chain, we will modify the withhold release order to exclude them,” said Brenda Smith, Executive Assistant Commissioner of CBP’s Office of Trade.

Tobacco Commission’s Chief Executive Officer, Kaisi Sadala, said the commission is upbeat that other buyers will be allowed to export to the US.

“As a commission and enforcement agent, we are intensifying awareness among growers on evils of child labour and we will continue to enforce new laws under the new Tobacco Industry Act.

“We have been undertaking awareness programs with the police, grower association, and traditional chiefs on the same and soon we will engage the judiciary,” Sadala said.

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