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The US has banned sugar from the Dominican Republic’s largest producer

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Just as Americans are preparing their Christmas cakes, sugar imports from the Dominican Republic, the largest sugar producer, will be blocked at all ports in the United States.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday that sugar and sugar-based products made by Central Romana Corporation will be immediately banned from ports of entry after the agency found signs of the use of forced labor in its operations. The investigation found evidence of poor working and living conditions, withheld wages, excessive overtime and other violations.

“Manufacturers like Central Romana, who fail to comply with our laws, will suffer the consequences of eradicating these inhumane practices from U.S. supply chains,” CBP’s Office of Trade Executive Assistant Commissioner Annmarie Highsmith said in a statement. “

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“Central Romana Corporation is deeply disappointed by the decision of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to withhold a release order regarding our company’s products,” Central Romana wrote in a statement to The Washington Post. “We strongly disagree with this decision as we feel it does not reflect the facts about our company and the treatment of our employees.”

The company claims that it has always provided fair wages, accommodation and other benefits.

According to government data, sugar prices are more than 14 percent higher than a year ago. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, sugar supplies in the U.S. had already declined prior to the import ban in Central Romana due to lower sugar production and imports.

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That said, most U.S. food companies have already secured their sugar supplies for the year, so it’s unlikely there will be an immediate price hike from a ban on baked goods, candies, and other sugar-filled holiday treats.

Lee Sanders, a senior vice president of the American Bakers Association, said: “America’s commercial bakeries have already bought sugar or have contracts to buy sugar through 2023, so this moratorium will not affect the production of baked goods for the public holidays.” Will not. “However, looking to the future, anything that disrupts global commodity markets could certainly drive already high prices even higher.”

The injunction against Central Romana is the latest action the United States has taken to address the allegations. Forced labor and other human rights violations abound in the supply chains of imported goods, and Dominican sugar has long been under the scrutiny of regulators. In September, the US Department of Labor placed sugar cane from the Dominican Republic on its list of potential raw materials. produced by child labor or forced labour.

Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Troy A. “The agency will continue to set a high global standard by aggressively investigating allegations of forced labor in US supply chains and banning contaminated goods from the US,” Miller said.

The International Labor Organization estimates that approximately 28 million workers worldwide suffer from forced labour. Federal law prohibits the importation of goods produced by forced, forced, or indentured labor, and the CBP intercepts shipments of goods suspected of being imported in violation of this law.

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Central Romana, which exports more than $100 million worth of products to the United States annually, has long been accused of subjecting its workers to substandard wages and unsafe conditions. According to a post-2021 survey, workers in Central Romana said they made about $125 a month cutting sugar cane, much less than the country’s average monthly wage. The company denies any wrongdoing with its employees.

In a written statement to The Post in 2021, Central Romana said: “Like any socially responsible company, we strive each year to make progress and improve our performance, including health and industrial safety, labor aspects, environmental compliance and continued social investment. in all processes. Responsibility Program.

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