TRADE WITH CHINA MOVES AHEAD WITH CAUTION

The United States Customs Service plans to move ahead with plans to normalize trade with China but will monitor human rights issues related to goods made there, Customs Commissioner Carol Hallett said Saturday.

The US-China trading relationship "is complicated by the number of 'forced labor' imports coming out of that country," Hallett told a meeting of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute.

She was referring to reports that some manufactured goods exported by China are made by political prisoners in forced labor camps.

Although the US plans to move ahead with a mutual customs assistance agreement with China, Hallett said the US would continue to monitor human rights. US Customs agents have already seized more than $15 million worth of illegally-imported, Chinese-made apparel, she said.

The agency is stepping up enforcement of laws prohibiting illegal imports of apparel and textiles, and has visited more than 690 Chinese factories in recent months, she said.

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