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Malaysia-based palm oil company Sime Darby Plantation is no longer using forced labour, paving the way for the USA to restart imports from the company, Bloomberg reported US Customs as saying.

Palm oil and related products linked to Sime Darby had been banned from entering the USA since January 2022 following claims of forced labour, Bloomberg wrote on 2 February.

Since then, the company had provided additional information to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which said on 2 February that it had satisfactory evidence to believe that the products were “no longer mined, produced, or manufactured in any part with forced labour”.

The new regulation would apply to any merchandise imported on or after 3 February, the notice said.

“We are optimistic that the tremendous strides we have made in bolstering the quality of life for our workforce will soon be recognised by the US Customs and Border Protection and that we will be allowed to resume exports to the USA,” Sime Darby was quoted as saying to Bloomberg News.

The company issued a statement on 3 February saying the USA could resume imports from Sime Darby with immediate effect, the report said.

Sime Darby had pledged to ensure the well-being of workers and had submitted a report in April to show that its operations were in “full compliance” with US import regulations and international labour standards, Bloomberg wrote.

“It took us more than 500,000 man hours to undertake our reviews and to revise what we already had in place,” group managing director Mohamad Helmy Othman Basha was quoted as saying. “Our commitment to all our stakeholders is vigilance and a continuing responsibility to produce palm oil that is free of forced labour.”

The Malaysian government had also formed a working committee with the CBP to address the issue, the report said.