U.S. blocks imports of palm oil from Malaysian producer Sime Darby

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 30 (Reuters) - The United States has banned imports of palm oil from Malaysian producer Sime Darby Plantation over allegations of forced labour in the production process, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said on Wednesday.

The agency said it has issued a ‘withhold release order’, which will allow it to detain shipments based on suspicion of forced labor involvement under longstanding U.S. laws aimed at combating human trafficking, child labor and other human rights abuses.

“The issuance of a withhold release order against Sime Darby Plantation palm oil is based on information that reasonably indicates the presence of all 11 of the International Labour Organization’s forced labor indicators in Sime Darby Plantation’s production process,” the agency said in a statement.

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff and A. Ananthalakshmi, editing by Louise Heavens