Introducing A Bill to Amend the Tariff Act of 1930 (S. 992)

Date: May 10, 2005
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Labor Unions




S. 992. A bill to amend the Tariff Act of 1930 to eliminate the consumptive demand exception relating to the importation of goods made with forced labor; to the Committee on Finance.

Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, today, I am proposing to strike the consumptive demand clause from Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1307). Section 307 prohibits the importation of any product or good produced with forced or indentured labor including forced or indentured child labor.

The consumptive demand clause creates an exception to this prohibition. Under the exception, if a product is not made in the United States, and there is a demand for it, then a product made with forced or indentured child labor may be imported into this country.

Let us be clear: forced or indentured labor means work which is extracted from any person under the menace of penalty for nonperformance and for which the worker does not offer himself voluntarily. Let us be really clear: this means slave labor. In the case of children, it means child slavery.

Some examples of goods that are made with child slave labor include cocoa beans, hand-knotted carpets, beedis, which are small Indian cigarettes, soccer balls and cotton.

Throughout my Senate career, I have worked to reduce the use of forced child labor worldwide.

In 2003, my staff was invited by Customs to meet with field agents on Section 307 to discuss what appropriations were needed to enforce the statute. At the meeting, the field agents reported that the consumptive demand clause was an obstacle to their ability to enforce the law that is supposed to prevent goods made with slave labor from being imported into the United States.

The consumptive demand clause is outdated. Since this exception was enacted in the 1930s, the U.S. has taken numerous steps to stop the scourge of child slave labor. Most notably, the United States has ratified International Labor Organization's Convention 182 to Prohibit the Worst forms of Child Labor. Currently, 152 other countries have also ratified this ILO Convention.

Retaining the consumptive clause contradicts our international commitments to eliminate abusive child labor. Maintaining the consumptive demand clause says to the world that the United States justifies the use of slave labor, if US consumers need an item not produced in this country. There should be no exception to a fundamental stand against the use of slave labor. it is my hope that Congress will act.

I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the RECORD.