NGOs Call for Immediate Action from U.S. Customs to Block Import of Palm Oil Produced Using Forced Labor

New evidence of forced labor against Procter & Gamble’s joint venture partner, Malaysian company FGV


International Labor Rights Forum, Rainforest Action Network, and SumOfUs

This week, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) announced it is suspending certification bids for the non-certified units of FGV Holdings Berhad (FGV) — one of Malaysia’s largest palm oil companies and a joint venture partner of Procter & Gamble — as well as re-imposing the RSPO’s suspension of FGV’s mill unit Kilang Sawit Serting. This comes after the RSPO’s Complaints Panel reviewed six audit reports from the company and found significant evidence of ongoing forced labor.

In August 2019, International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), Rainforest Action Network (RAN), and SumOfUs filed a formal complaint with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), seeking to stop the importation of palm oil products produced by FGV Holdings Berhad (FGV) under the Tariff Act of 1930, which prohibits entry of goods into the United States if there is reasonable cause to believe they contain materials made with forced labor. ILRF, RAN, and SumOfUs are calling for U.S. Customs to immediately issue a detention order on all imports of FGV products and to direct port managers to block the release of FGV products into the United States.

“There is no more time for delays,” said Judy Gearhart, Executive Director of the International Labor Rights Forum. “The evidence of forced labor across FGV’s plantations is overwhelming, and the U.S. government has an obligation to ensure that goods made with forced labor don’t end up in the hands of American customers at the expense of workers around the world.”

“Procter & Gamble and a long list of well-known brands and agribusiness companies have been knowingly profiting from FGV’s forced labor practices for years,” said Robin Averbeck, Agribusiness Campaign Director for Rainforest Action Network. “It’s abhorrent that palm oil workers have continued to live in forced labor conditions simply so these companies can make increasing profits by paying illegally low prices for palm oil. This has to stop now. These companies must publicly cut ties with FGV until it addresses forced labor and other labor abuses on its plantations.”

“Palm oil workers deserve to have their rights respected and global consumers deserve to know that the products they buy are not tied to forced labor, deforestation and other abuses,” said Fatah Sadaoui, Campaign Manager for SumOfUs. “More than 260,000 people from around the world are calling on U.S. Customs and all companies tied to FGV to take urgent action now, the people and the planet can’t wait any longer.”

Along with Procter & Gamble, the list of companies connected to FGV includes Bunge Loders Croklaan, Cargill, ADM, AAK, Louis Dreyfus Company, Sime Darby, Colgate-Palmolive, Ferrero, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, L’oreal, Mars, Mondelēz, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Reckitt Benkiser, Clasen Quality Chocolate and B&H Distribution.