BMW and JLR imported a banned Xinjiang part to the US, a Senate investigation has found

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BMW and Jaguar Land Rover imported cars and parts to the US, including a part made by a company linked to Uyghur forced labor, even after being notified, a US Congressional report has found.

The US Senate Finance Committee in December 2022 launched an investigation into eight automakers, including Tesla, Volkswagen, Stellantis and Toyota, over concerns that their supply chains contained an element of forced labor from China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, home to the Uyghur population.

In February, the Financial Times revealed that the Volkswagen Group had seized thousands of Porsche, Bentley and Audi cars at US ports after being informed that the same part had been made using forced labor from Xinjiang.

The congressional investigation, released Monday, found that BMW had imported about 8,000 Mini Cooper cars using parts from a Chinese company that had been placed on the U.S. forced labor ban list. It was found that JLR continued to import components even after being notified.

“The Finance Commission’s oversight staff discovered what billion-dollar corporations apparently could not: that BMW was importing cars, Jaguar Land Rover was importing parts, and VW AG was manufacturing cars that all contained parts made by a supplier banned for using Uyghur forced labor ”, the Senate said. Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden said in a statement.

The report underlines the difficulty global automakers face in decoupling their operations from China as trade tensions with the West worsen. It also highlights the challenge of enforcing legislation to tackle forced labor in industry supply chains.

The investigation, led by Democrat Senator Ron Wyden, found that a part made by banned Chinese supplier Sichuan Jingweida Technology Group (JWD) was ultimately used by US automotive electronics manufacturer Lear Corporation, a direct supplier to BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and Volkswagen.

Lear said it notified automakers BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo and Volkswagen on Jan. 11 about the part, known as a LAN transformer. The component was provided by JWD, which was added to the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFPLA) in December last year.

But the committee report said that both BMW and Jaguar Land Rover in April denied sourcing parts from JWD in responses to Senate panel questions.

A BMW spokesperson said the German carmaker had been “informed by one of our direct suppliers that a sub-supplier in its supply chain” had been placed on the ban list. They added that the group had since “taken steps to halt imports of affected products” and would notify customers and dealers with the relevant vehicles.

JLR continued to import the JWD component to North America – its second largest market – until April 22, when Lear reiterated information about the banned components to the company.

After the compliance team was notified, JLR “immediately halted all shipments of the two affected aftermarket service parts,” the company said in a statement, adding that it had quarantined components already on the market ready for destruction .

Lear Corporation said the company had no direct relationship with JWD and notified its automotive customers of the part’s presence after its own supplier informed Lear that the Chinese manufacturer had been added to the U.S. ban list.

“If a supplier violates our policies or requirements, we investigate and take all appropriate action, up to and including termination of the contract,” a spokesperson said.

The US passed the UFPLA in 2021, which bans the import of products made with forced labor in Xinjiang. Data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows that goods worth about $680 million were rejected under the legislation between June 2022 and May 2024.

Chinese officials have defended work programs in

This article has been amended to clarify that the Xinjiang region is located in northwest China

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