Apple was one of several large companies that reportedly lobbied to weaken a bill that sought to bar U.S. companies from making products in China with the aid of forced Uighur labor, according to The New York Times.
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act passed the House with a 406-3 margin in September, and has the necessary support to pass the Senate. It aims to ban U.S. companies from importing products made in the Xinjiang region unless the manufacturers can prove they do not use forced labor.
The NYT report, published Sunday, notes that Apple “lobbied to limit some provisions of the bill, said two congressional staff members and another person familiar with the matter.”
Apple and forced labor bill in China
According to disclosure forms, Apple paid a firm called Fierce Government Relations, led by former aides to Sen. Mitch McConnell and President George W. Bush, a total of $90,000 to lobby on issues, including Xinjiang-related legislation, in Q3. Apple also paid outside firms to lobby on another bill called the Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act of 2020.
Apple claims that it supports strengthening regulation in this area. It also says it believes the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act should be passed into law. However, Apple was reportedly making suggested edits to the bill. These include dates for compliance deadlines and whether to release certain information about supply chains to the public. A March report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute listed Apple as one of the companies that has benefited from labor transfer programs linked to Xinjiang.
Apple issued a statement saying that it operates under the strongest code of conduct for suppliers in the industry. The statement said:
“Looking for the presence of forced labor is part of every supplier assessment we conduct and any violations of our policies carry immediate consequences, including business termination. Earlier this year, we conducted a detailed investigation with our suppliers in China and found no evidence of forced labor on Apple production lines and we are continuing to monitor this closely.”
Source: The New York Times