February 5, 2023

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The US Senate is asking auto manufacturers for guidance on Chinese supplies

The Chairman of the Finance Committee wrote to major auto groups to ask where the components used in cars in China come from

Emiliano Ragoni

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Emiliano Ragoni

Last June, a US law came into force banning the import of products from Xinjiang, an autonomous region in the People’s Republic of China, in protest of Beijing’s treatment of the Muslim Uighur minority, which Washington has described as genocide. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden wrote to the CEOs of major automakers to inquire about supply chain issues in China, saying “it is imperative that automakers verify their relationships with all suppliers connected to Xinjiang.” Beijing denies abuses in Xinjiang, but says it has set up vocational training centers to curb terrorism, separatism and religious extremism. The United Auto Workers (UAW) of the United States this month called on automakers to move their entire supply chain out of China’s Xinjiang region, saying, “It’s time for the auto industry to create supply chain models as a high-speed train out of the Uyghurs.” region, which can protect labor, human rights and the environment.”

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“Unless due diligence confirms that the components are not related to forced labor, automakers cannot and should not sell vehicles in the United States that include components mined or produced in Xinjiang,” the letters to Toyota Motor, Volkswagen, Stellantis and Mercedes-Benz said. “. Specifically, Wyden wants to know if automakers have eliminated or reduced the use of a supplier “because of its use of Xinjiang-related raw materials, mining, processing, or component manufacturing?” The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee cited a new report released earlier this month by researchers at Britain’s Sheffield Hallam University on the auto industry’s use of steel, aluminum, copper, batteries, electronics and other component products in Xinjiang. “Between the extraction/processing of raw materials and the production of auto components, we have found that almost every part of a vehicle will require more thorough inspection to ensure it is free from forced labor committed against the Uyghurs (the Islamic religion who live in northwestern China), the report states.

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the answers

GM said it actively monitors its global supply chain and that supplier contracts prohibit the use of “involuntary or coerced labor, mistreatment of employees, or corrupt business practices in the supply of goods and services to GM.” Honda said it expects suppliers to follow global sustainability guidelines when it comes to business. “Building strong and responsible supply chains is an important goal for us,” commented Stellantis, noting that it checks suppliers’ compliance with its Code of Conduct through contractual obligations and ongoing assessments. Volkswagen said it would respond to the Senate letter by stressing that it takes corporate responsibility seriously and rejects “forced labor and all forms of modern slavery, including human trafficking.” Other automakers didn’t comment or didn’t immediately comment.