US eases ban on tobacco imports from Malawi

The United States has modified its ban on tobacco imports from Malawi and now it allows Alliance One International to import Malawi tobacco into the US.

This is effective June 3, 2020.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) revealed this in a statement made available to Malaw24. The link to the statement was also posted on @CBPTradeGov, the official Twitter account for CBP, on June 2.

Last year, the CBP issued a “Withhold Release Order (WRO)” against tobacco and tobacco products from Malawi following concerns that they were produced using forced labour.

In yesterday’s statement, the CBP through spokesperson Nathan Peeters said it has 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.

“These actions produced evidence that sufficiently supports Alliance One International’s claim that the tobacco produced and harvested from their farms does not use forced labor,” said Peeters.

He, however, added that 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 labor in its supply chain

US laws prohibits the importation of merchandise mined, manufactured or produced, wholly or in part, by forced labor, including convict labor, forced child labor and indentured labor.

The order against tobacco from Malawi was issued last year after a law firm in the United Kingdom announced that almost 2000 tobacco tenant farmers, including hundreds of children, from Malawi were taking legal action against British American Tobacco accusing them of forced and child labour.

Tobacco is Malawi’s major export and accounts for over 50 percent of the country’s forex earnings, according to the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre.