The United States has banned imports of palm oil from Malaysian company FGV Holdings FGVH.KL following an investigation into allegations it uses forced labour, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency said on Wednesday.
FGV, the world’s largest crude palm oil producer, and some other suppliers of the oil used in everything from food to cosmetics to biodiesel have long faced allegations from rights groups over labour and human rights abuses.
FGV did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The U.S. agency said the ban was the result of a year-long investigation that revealed signs of forced labour such as abuse of the vulnerable, deception, physical and sexual violence, intimidation and threats, and retention of identity documents.
The investigation also raised concerns that forced child labour was potentially being used in FGV’s production processes, CBP said in a statement, adding that the ban would come into effect immediately.
“The use of forced labour in the production of such a ubiquitous product allows companies to profit from the abuse of vulnerable workers,” said Brenda Smith, Executive Assistant Commissioner of CBP’s trade office.