March 28,2023

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Keith Chu

Senate Finance Committee Chair Wyden Expands Investigation of Auto Supply Chain Links to Forced Labor in Xinjiang, China

Wyden Requests Details from Tier 1 Auto Suppliers on Supply Chain Oversight and Sends New Round of Questions to Automakers; Wyden Seeks Answers on the Effectiveness of Trade-Based Efforts to Fight Forced Labor and Human Rights Violations in China

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., ramped up his investigation into auto supply chain links to forced labor in the Xinjiang region of China, with new questions for automakers and tier 1 suppliers in letters sent today. Importing goods made with forced labor is illegal under federal trade laws.  

Wyden sent an initial round of questions to eight major automakers in December. Their responses failed to provide specific details about how corporations oversee supply chains to ensure no goods made with forced labor are used in autos, often claiming that suppliers had responsibility for ensuring that their supply chains are free of forced labor. 

As a result Wyden sent letters today to auto suppliers Continental AG, DENSO Corporation, Magna International Inc., Robert Bosch GmbH, and ZF Friedrichshafen AG, requesting information about how those companies source materials and oversee their supply chains. 

“[Auto] companies rely heavily on their immediate suppliers – often called ‘tier 1’ suppliers – to ensure that forced labor is not used to make components that pass through many layers of complex automotive supply chains before reaching automakers,” Wyden wrote to suppliers.  “Many major automakers require tier 1 suppliers to adhere to ‘codes of conduct’ that require reporting about their sub-suppliers and prohibit sourcing materials from sub-suppliers that use forced labor."

Wyden’s December letters to Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Stellantis, Tesla, Toyota and Volkswagen were prompted in part by a report by researchers at the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice at Sheffield Hallam University, which found links between Chinese companies operating in Xinjiang and automakers that import parts from them, including batteries, wiring and wheels. 

“Information I have learned from the initial stages of the Committee’s investigation raises serious questions about tier 1 suppliers’ ability to ensure that sub-suppliers do not rely on forced labor,” he wrote to suppliers. 

“I recognize that tier 1 suppliers rely on complex supply chains to source thousands of parts from across the world. However, this complexity cannot cause the United States to compromise its fundamental commitment to upholding human rights and U.S. law.”

Wyden also sent a second round of questions to the eight major automakers today.

As chairman of the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over international trade, Wyden has fought to stop imports of products made with forced labor, and to better enforce trade laws against countries like China, which flout international trade rules to advantage their companies. Wyden successfully passed legislation he co-authored with Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, to close a critical loophole in U.S. trade law that had allowed goods made with forced labor into the country. 

The full letters to tier 1 suppliers are available below:

Click here for the letter to Robert Bosch GmbH. 

Click here for the letter to Continental AG.

Click here for the letter to DENSO Corporation.

Click here for the letter to Magna International Inc.

Click here for the letter to ZF Friedrichshafen AG. 

The full letters to automakers are available below:

Click here for the letter to American Honda Motor Co., Inc. 

Click here for the letter to Ford Motor Company.

Click here for the letter to General Motors Company.

Click here for the letter to Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC.

Click here for the letter to Stellantis N.V.

Click here for the letter to Tesla, Inc.

Click here for the letter to Toyota Motor North America, Inc.

Click here for the letter to Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.