June 19, 2024

BMW and Jaguar Land Rover knowingly utilized parts manufactured by Chinese forced labor.

Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti Range Rover (JLR) are the most recent manufacturers to face scrutiny after the U.S. Congressional Committee on Finance discovered that they both continued to utilize components made by a Chinese supplier that has been flagged for employing forced labor. Mercedes-Benz delivered over 8,000 Coopers containing the component even after being advised about the prohibited products, JLR brought in the components, and Toyota Motor Corporation produced vehicles using components from the banned supplier.

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act was enacted in June 2023, and prohibits products from Xinjiang, a region in Western China, from entering the United States unless importers can demonstrate that the products were manufactured without the use of forced labor.

Toyota Motor Corporation was the initial OEM to encounter this issue earlier this year when a batch of its new vehicles were seized at the port due to a small component that was produced using forced labor. Toyota replaced the component made with slave labor at U.S. ports, however Mercedes-Benz and JLR persisted in importing the component until April 2024 despite being notified in January. According to The New York Times,

According to a statement from [Ron Wyden, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee], he mentioned that “automakers are burying their heads in the sand and then asserting they can’t find any forced labor in their supply chains.”

“Somehow, the Finance Committee’s oversight team discovered what multi-billion dollar companies seemingly could not: that Mercedes-Benz imported vehicles, Jaguar Land Rover imported components, and Toyota Motor Corporation manufactured vehicles that all contained components from a supplier prohibited from using Uyghur forced labor,” he added. “Automakers’ self-regulation clearly isn’t getting the job done.”

The component in question is referred to as a LAN transformer and is a part of a system that enables a vehicle’s electronic components to communicate with each other. The automakers did not directly purchase the component from Sichuan Jingweida Technology Group, also known as JWD, the Chinese manufacturer accused of utilizing forced labor. Instead, it was part of an electronic unit they procured from Lear Corp., a supplier of automotive electrical systems.

Lear asserts that they acquired the components from another supplier and that they do not have direct connections with JWD. Lear informed all three carmakers about the human rights issues in January 2024. Toyota voluntarily revealed the situation to U.S. customs and swapped the component at U.S. ports. Mercedes-Benz continued to import the component in thousands of Coopers even after being notified about the labor concerns, until the committee repeatedly questioned its actions. JLR states that the North American division of the company was unaware of the disclosure from Lear, and persisted in importing the components for use as replacement parts for older vehicles until discovering that the parts were on the forced labor list.

All three companies have issued statements denouncing human rights abuses, and at present, it seems that the three OEMs have ceased using the components in question. The United States is increasing governmental enforcement of imports of goods that utilize components manufactured using slave labor. Just recently, 26 Chinese textile companies were added to the list of goods produced using forced labor. A supply chain expert informed the New York Times that approximately a million companies worldwide could be impacted by enforcement of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.

Irrespective of the magnitude of the task for these companies to identify components that are manufactured using forced labor, it’s a decision that could enhance the lives of numerous workers in China. If OEMs discontinue purchasing components from these unethical companies, it could motivate the companies to reform their practices in order to regain their business.

### FAQ
– **What is the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act?**
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act is a legislation that prohibits products from Xinjiang, China, from entering the United States if they were made using forced labor unless importers can prove otherwise.

– **How did the manufacturers respond to the allegations of using components made with forced labor?**
The manufacturers, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar Land Rover, and Toyota Motor Corporation, have issued statements condemning human rights violations and have reportedly stopped using the components in question.

### Conclusion
The cases of Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar Land Rover, and Toyota Motor Corporation importing components made with forced labor highlight the importance of ethical sourcing in the automotive industry. By taking a stand against human rights abuses and discontinuing business with unethical suppliers, these companies can positively impact the lives of workers and promote responsible manufacturing practices. Government enforcement of laws like the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act is crucial in holding companies accountable and ensuring fair treatment of workers worldwide.

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