WITA Webinar: The U.S. Moves Against Forced Labor in Xinjiang




On January 27, 2021, WITA held an event looking into the U.S. ban on cotton products and tomatoes produced in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

U.S. law prohibits the importation of any product that is mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part by forced labor, including forced or indentured child labor.

In 2020, the United States Department of Labor released two reports and updates to its efforts to combat international child labor and forced labor, including a list of goods produced in China under conditions of forced labor in violation of international standards.

This month, the U.S. banned imports of cotton products and tomatoes produced in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region over reports of the use of forced labor in production of those products.

  • Kenneth I. Levinson, Executive Director, Washington International Trade Association
Remarks and Panelist Discussion
  • Dr. Adrian Zenz, Senior Fellow in China Studies, Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation 
  • Brenda Brockman Smith, Executive Assistant Commissioner, Office of Trade, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
  • Sharon Waxman, President & CEO, Fair Labor Association
  • Jon Gold, Vice President, Supply Chain and Customs Policy, National Retail Federation
  • Moderator, Claude G.B. Fontheim, Chief Executive Officer, Fontheim International, LLC
Followed by:
  • Q & A with Audience Moderated by Ken – Webinar attendees are encouraged to use the Q&A function on the Zoom app to submit their questions in real time.
Dr. Adrian Zenz is a Senior Fellow in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, Washington, D.C. (non-resident), and supervises Ph.D. students at the European School of Culture and Theology, Korntal, Germany. His research focus is on China’s ethnic policy, public recruitment in Tibet and Xinjiang, Beijing’s internment campaign in Xinjiang, and China’s domestic security budgets. Dr. Zenz is the author of Tibetanness under Threat and co-editor of Mapping Amdo: Dynamics of Change. He has played a leading role in the analysis of leaked Chinese government documents, including the “China Cables” and the “Karakax List.” Dr. Zenz is an advisor to the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, and a frequent contributor to the international media.
Dr. Zenz obtained his M.A. in development studies from the University of Auckland, and his Ph.D. in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge. Dr. Zenz has provided expert testimony to the governments of Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the U.S. He has published opinion pieces with Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, and The New York Times. Most recently, his work on parent-child separation in Xinjiang prompted The Economist to feature this atrocity on its cover page and to refer to it as “a crime against humanity” that represents “the gravest example of a worldwide attack on human rights.”
Brenda Brockman Smith is the Executive Assistant Commissioner at the Office of Trade, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Since 2014, Ms. Smith has overseen a diverse portfolio of trade enforcement, security, and facilitation matters to enable legitimate trade, contribute to American economic prosperity, and protect against risks to public health and safety. Her work ranges from enforcing over 500 U.S. trade laws, to overseeing 14 trade agreements with 20 countries, to directing CBP’s seven Priority Trade Issues. She oversees national compliance audits and the management of trade data, along with CBP’s regulatory process for administering trade and border operations. She is also responsible for implementation of many components of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA) of 2015. TFTEA, the first comprehensive authorization of CBP since Department of Homeland Security was created in 2003, ensures a fair and competitive trade environment.
Notably, under Ms. Smith’s leadership, CBP has automated and modernized trade processes through the completion of the U.S. Single Window via the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). Through ACE, the private sector transmits import-export data to 47 partner government agencies, eliminating over 250 paper forms and streamlining trade processes. CBP now has 100 percent of the scheduled core trade processing capabilities in ACE. Because of her work saving the government and industry time and money through the development of U.S. Single Window, Ms. Smith was a 2017 finalist in the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America (“Sammie”) award for management excellence.
Ms. Smith was also honored with a 2017 Distinguished Executive Presidential Rank Award, the highest award in civil service. Only one percent of government executives receive this rank. The award recognizes her achievements in enhancing CBP’s enforcement to protect American consumers.
Since joining the U.S. Customs Service in 1994, Ms. Smith has served in a variety of roles overseeing trade and border enforcement issues. Most recently the Executive Director for the ACE Business Office, she has also served as Executive Director for Trade Policy and Programs, the Director of Policy and Programs in the Office of International Affairs and Trade Relations, and led the Commissioner’s Strategic Planning and Performance Division. Prior to joining Customs, Ms. Smith worked at the Department of the Treasury and on Capitol Hill. 
Ms. Smith holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Economics from Rutgers University and is also a graduate of the Customs Leadership Institute and the Federal Executive Institute.
Sharon Waxman is the President & CEO of the Fair Labor Association. Sharon joined the FLA in 2015 after serving as Vice President for Public Policy at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), where she developed rights based policy and strategies and led a global team based in Africa, the Middle East, Brussels, Geneva, London, New York, and Washington. As Deputy to the Undersecretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, she advanced U.S. policy on international labor, human trafficking, refugee rights and other human security issues. She provided oversight of five Bureaus and two Ambassadorial offices, including the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and the Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons. For more than a decade, she served as Senior National Security Advisor to U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA). 
Earlier in her career, she served as Associate Staff to the Senate Appropriations Committee and developed funding strategies for international trade, development and foreign assistance programs. Sharon is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She previously served on the Board of the US Global Leadership Coalition, and currently serves on the Sustainability Advisory Board for Nespresso and the Advisory Board for Cornell University’s New Conversations Project. 
She received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and her Masters of International Public Policy at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.
Jon Gold is the Vice President of Supply Chain and Customs Policy at the National Retail Federation. In this role, Gold is a primary spokesperson and is responsible for representing the retail industry before Congress and the administration on supply chain, international trade, product safety and customs-related issues impacting the retail industry. While with NRF, he has been a leading advocate of the value of trade and global value chains to the U.S. economy. Prior to joining NRF, Gold served as a policy analyst in the Office of Policy and Planning for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He joined CBP in May 2006 and was responsible for providing policy guidance on issues surrounding maritime cargo security and trade-related matters. Gold also worked on implementation issues surrounding the SAFE Port Act and other issues within the agency including CBP intelligence reform, pandemic flu and trade facilitation.
Before joining CBP, Gold spent nearly a decade with the Retail Industry Leaders Association holding several government relations positions including director and then vice president of international trade policy before being named vice president of global supply chain policy in January 2005. Gold currently serves on the Department of Commerce’s Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness. He has previously served on the Department of Homeland Security’s Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee and on the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Advisory Committee on Distribution Services.
Gold holds a bachelor’s degree in international business with a concentration in finance from American University in Washington, D.C.
Claude G.B. Fontheim is the CEO of advisory firm Fontheim International, LLC, and Chairman of civil society organizations GlobalWorks Foundation and GoodWeave International. He has decades of experience advising global companies, civil society organizations and government officials regarding ESG and global public policy.
Mr. Fontheim was among the first practitioners in the fields of corporate social responsibility and related governance issues. He has also long advised global businesses, civil society organizations, government officials, and Presidential and congressional campaigns regarding international trade, global development and foreign policy matters.
Mr. Fontheim is a Co-Founder and Senior Advisor to the American Leadership Initiative, which is co-creating a 21st Century agenda for American global leadership with thought leaders from civil society, politics, government, academia and business.
He also serves on the Advisory Board of the University of Michigan – Michigan in Washington Program where he and his family have funded an annual scholarship for students unable to afford participation.
Mr. Fontheim served previously on the President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations, as well as the advisory committees on Africa for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and on international economic policy for the State Department. He was also a partner in a global law firm.
Mr. Fontheim received his J.D., M.P.P., and B.A. from the University of Michigan where he graduated with High Honors, High Distinction, Phi Beta Kappa, and was Managing Editor of Michigan’s international law publication.
Kenneth Levinson is the Executive Director of the Washington International Trade Association (WITA). WITA is Washington’s largest non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to providing a neutral forum in the U.S. capital for the open and robust discussion of international trade policy and economic issues. WITA has over 3,750 members, and more than 170 corporate sponsors and group memberships.
Previously, Ken served as Senior Director for Global Government Affairs for AstraZeneca. Prior to joining AstraZeneca, Ken served as Senior Vice President and COO at the Washington, DC consulting firm of Fontheim International. Ken started his career on the staff of U.S. Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, where he served as the Senator’s chief advisor for international trade, tax, foreign policy, and national security.
Ken received a Master’s degree in European History from New York University after doing his undergraduate work at the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst. Ken also spent a year studying at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Ken and his wife, the Reverend Donna Marsh, live in Bethesda, MD, with their two daughters.