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US Turns to AI to Track Forced Labour in Brands’ Supply Chains

Shipping containers at the port of Miami.
US Customs and Border Protection are stopping more products at the border in a crackdown on imports from China's Xinjiang. region. (Shutterstock)

The US customs agency responsible for enforcing the country’s tough ban on goods that could be linked to forced labour in China is turning to AI to help do its job.

The Customs and Border Protection agency has signed a multi-year contract with Altana, a tech-driven supply-chain mapping company, to help it understand how goods move through the global economy and prioritise action, Altana said Thursday.

The contract is worth $2.85 million in its first year and nearly $10 million over three years, according to Axios, which first reported the news.

The contract builds on an existing relationship between CBP and Altana, which raised $100 million last year. Under the new partnership, CBP agents across the country will have access to Altana’s Atlas, which applies AI to public and private data sources to build a picture of how goods are moving through the global economy.

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The move comes as fashion feels the heat from the US crackdown on imports linked to China’s Xinjiang region, with companies including Nike and Adidas facing questions from congress about their supply chains and more $34 million-worth of fashion and footwear stopped at the border in the last 12 months, according to CBP data.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on July 20 to amend figures that had been reported incorrectly by Axios.

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