FGV fully commits to lifting US import ban with solid remedial measures in place

KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 — FGV Holdings Bhd (FGV) is determined to have the Withhold Release Order (WRO) issued by the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on September 30, 2020, lifted.

FGV and its subsidiaries and joint ventures were banned by the CBP on September 30, 2020, effectively barring the entry of its products to the US, due to allegations of forced labour on its estates.

Chief sustainability officer Nurul Hasanah Ahamed Hassain Malim told Bernama that FGV has implemented remedial measures to get the US import ban lifted, including appointing global independent consultant Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance (LRQA), formerly known as ELEVATE, to conduct an assessment of FGV’s operations against the 11 International Labour Organisation indicators of forced labour.

She said that as one of the world’s largest crude palm oil producers, FGV has implemented a recovery plan to reduce the risk of forced labour in its operations.

This includes an allocation of RM605 million for the construction of new housing for workers and improvements to their living conditions, said Nurul Hasanah.

“FGV has also allocated RM22.2 million to improve access to safe drinking water supply and RM15 million to improve internet access for workers, especially in remote operational areas,” she said.

Nurul Hasanah also said that FGV has enhanced the screening procedure of migrant workers to ensure only ethical agencies that comply with the company’s guidelines are appointed.

“In line with FGV’s commitment to the principle of ‘no recruitment fee for workers’, the company has refunded a total of RM72.2 million to nearly 20,153 of its migrant workers and RM1.77 million to 415 of its former migrant workers so far,” she said.

The repayment programme to former migrant workers in the company will be carried out until the end of 2024, and LRQA is conducting follow-up assessments on FGV’s operations after the implementation of the recovery plan.

“The assessment results are crucial in demonstrating FGV’s compliance with labour standards, and it will be included with our petition to CBP to withdraw the WRO imposed on FGV products,” Nurul Hasanah said.

FGV plans to submit its petition to the CBP by the end of June 2024 to get the WRO revoked with all the measures it has in place to address the gaps identified by the audit firm, she said.

Based on the experiences of other companies slapped with a WRO, Nurul Hasanah said the CBP would usually take between six and 12 months to go through the petition and validate the estates.

She said FGV remained optimistic about the withdrawal of the WRO and that the process would be completed soon.

“FGV remained committed to respecting human rights and overall sustainability to contribute to a sustainable and prosperous future for generations ahead, in line with the company’s sustainability framework,” she said. — Bernama




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