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Uniqlo says 'no direct deal' with entity in China's Xinjiang area

Clothing retailer challenges import ban by US customs over human rights issue

Uniqlo maintains that there is no forced labor in its supply chains, despite U.S. claims to the contrary.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo said on Tuesday it has "no direct deal" with a company in China's Xinjiang region suspected of using forced labor, after the U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently banned the import of cotton shirts from the Japanese brand.

"We confirm that certain cotton shirt products, which were manufactured in China using raw cotton from outside China, were blocked from being imported into the United States," said Uniqlo in a statement, referring to products the U.S. agency says it strongly suspects were manufactured using cotton supplied by Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC).

A representative of Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing told Nikkei that "there is no direct deal with XPCC."

"We demonstrated that there is no evidence of forced labor in our supply chain, and that there should be no problem with importing these products into the United States," Uniqlo argued, adding that it has provided information on the country of origin of raw materials used in its products and production processes.

"The documentation covering the nature and origin of the cotton was accepted by Customs authorities," continued the statement. "However, while the CBP has previously given clearance to other goods manufactured through the same processes, the CBP did not give clearance this time," Uniqlo added, referring to the U.S. customs agency.

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