U.S. seizes shipment from Malaysia's Top Glove over forced labour concerns

KUALA LUMPUR, May 13 (Reuters) - The United States seized latex gloves made by Malaysian firm Top Glove Corp Bhd after a shipment was found in Kansas City despite an import ban on its products over forced labour allegations, U.S. customs said on Wednesday.

In a statement, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said its officials at the Port of Kansas City seized 4.68 million latex gloves produced by a Top Glove unit in Malaysia with an estimated value of $690,000.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the seizure of gloves.

This is the second Top Glove shipment seized in about a week. On May 5, U.S. Customs seized 3.97 million nitrile gloves worth $518,000.

The seizure shows that there is demand for Top Glove products despite the U.S. ban first announced in July last year. Top Glove is the world’s biggest glove maker and has seen global demand soar due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. Customs prohibited the import of Top Glove products last year, saying it had found reasonable evidence of forced labour.

And in March, it said it had found evidence of multiple forced labour indicators in Top Glove’s production process, including debt bondage, excessive overtime, abusive working and living conditions, and retention of identity documents, and directed its officials to seize goods from the manufacturer.

Top Glove has since said it has resolved all indicators of forced labour in its operations and that this had been verified by London-based ethical trade consultant Impactt Limited. (Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi and Liz Lee Editing by Ed Davies)