US Bans imports from Palm Oil Company FGV, Citing Forced Labor

The United States has banned imports of palm oil from Malaysian company FGV Holdings following an investigation into allegations it uses forced labour, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency said today.

FGV, the world’s largest crude palm oil producer, and some other suppliers of the oil used in everything from food to cosmetics to biodiesel have long faced allegations from rights groups over labour and human rights abuses.

FGV did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“We are issuing a Withhold Release Order on all palm oil and palm oil products manufactured by FGV Holdings Berhad,” Brenda Smith, executive assistant commissioner of CBP’s Office of Trade, told a virtual press briefing on Wednesday, referring to one of the world’s largest palm oil companies, in which a Malaysian government agency has a 12.4 percent stake.

She said the order was being issued “due to information we have that forced labor was in their production process.”

Smith said the action came after a year-long investigation of allegations from a variety of sources, including labor rights groups. This is the first time CBP has taken action against a palm oil producer, she added.