US Gets Tough On EV Batteries Made With China’s Slave Labor

Electric vehicle batteries and other auto components are facing increased scrutiny at the border as part of the federal government’s push to prevent the import of products made through forced labor in China, Reuters reported.

Previously, enforcement of the year-old law banning the import of products using forced labor in China’s Xinjiang province focused primarily on cotton apparel, solar panels, and tomatoes. However, according to a document obtained by Reuters, components including lithium-ion batteries, aluminum, steel, and tires, are also facing increased inspection by Customs and Border Protection.

Both solar energy and electric vehicles are central to the Biden administration’s plan to combat climate change by steering away from fossil fuels. But after the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevent Act went into effect, installations of solar energy facilities in the US fell by 31 percent due to the limits on Chinese-made solar panels, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

When Chinese shipments are detained at the border, Customs and Border Protection provides the importer a document with a list of products from previous reviews and the documentation needed to prove that the products aren’t made through forced labor. This document was updated in the spring to include batteries, steel, aluminum, and tires.

In a statement to Reuters, a spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection said the updated list of product types is “not exhaustive” and the timing is not reflective of any changes in operations or policy.

According to Customs and Border Protection, the focus is on products “where there are high risks in US supply chains.”

In its July report to Congress on enforcement of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevent Act, Customs and Border Protection included EV batteries, tires, “and other automobile components” among the products it was monitoring as “potential risk areas.”

Since February, Customs and Border Protection has detained 31 shipments of automotive and aerospace products. Detentions of metal shipments, including steel and aluminum, jumped from around $1 million per month at the end of last year to over $15 million a month.