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Alleging links to forced labor, Republicans call for ban on companies tied to Ford, Volkswagen EVs

A group of Republican lawmakers this week urged the Biden administration to ban imports from two Chinese companies with ties to Ford and Volkswagen, respectively, arguing the battery companies are also linked to forced labor in China.

in pair of letter In a report submitted to the Department of Homeland Security this week, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), along with Reps. John Moolenaar (R-MI), Mark Green (R-TN), Darin LaHood (R-IL) and Carlos Gimenez (R-FL), called for a ban on exports to Contemporary Amperex Technology Corp. (CATL) and Gotion.

The report said the companies’ “supply chains are seriously at risk” because of links to products made in China’s Xinjiang region, where China has been accused of human rights abuses against the Uighurs.

Specifically, CATL is “affiliated with the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps… a paramilitary and state-owned organization; [Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act] “It is prohibited by law because of its terrible forced labor practices.”

It also said Gochon “maintains extensive business ties with companies directly involved in forced labor and the ongoing genocide of Uighurs and other Muslim-majority ethnic groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and other provinces and regions of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).”

CATL, which has a battery contract with Ford, denied the accusations made by lawmakers.

“On June 5, members of the U.S. Congress sent a letter accusing CATL of engaging in forced labor, which are baseless and completely false,” the company said in a statement on its website.

“The document contains inaccurate and misleading citations about our suppliers. Some of the suppliers referenced in the document have long since been discontinued,” it continued. “Other suppliers are in business with different subsidiaries and have no connection to forced labor or other practices that violate applicable U.S. laws and regulations.”

Ford, Volkswagen and Gotion, which is partly owned by VW, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The criticism comes as the world tries to understand the full impact of the transition to electric vehicles. Climate solutions require batteries made from minerals whose supply chains sometimes involve forced labor, but the Inflation Control Act aims to encourage automakers to source their supply chains from countries friendly to the United States.

Republican lawmakers have been vocal about human rights concerns in the electric vehicle supply chain, but many in their party are pro-oil and have also raised concerns about the impact the transition to electric vehicles will have on the fossil fuel industry.

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