U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced an export ban on sugar made by Central Romana out of the Dominican Republic on Wednesday. File Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 24 (UPI) -- The Biden administration on Wednesday banned the biggest sugar producer in the world from exporting to the United States over allegations of using forced labor during its production.
Central Romana, based in the Dominican Republic, is owned by the Fanjul family, powerful sugar barons who are based in West Palm Beach, Fla., despite their company operating in the Caribbean.
The company is the largest landowner and employer in the Dominican Republic. Sugar made by the company is sold under the Domino brand in the United States. The ban is expected to drive up sugar prices.
"This Withhold Release Order demonstrates [Customs and Border Protection's] commitment to protect human rights and international labor standards and to promote a fair and competitive global marketplace," CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller said in a statement.
"The agency will continue to set a high global standard by aggressively investigating allegations of forced labor in U.S. supply chains and keeping tainted merchandise out of the United States."
CBP accused Central Romana of "11 indicators of forced labor" during its investigation, including abuse of vulnerability, isolation, withholding of wages, abusive working and living conditions and excessive overtime.
"CBP continues to set the international standard for ensuring that goods made with forced labor do not enter U.S. commerce," said AnnMarie Highsmith, executive assistant commissioner of CBP Office of Trade.
"Manufacturers like Central Romana, who fail to abide by our laws, will face consequences as we root out these inhumane practices from U.S. supply chains."
The Central Romana Corporation said in a statement that the allegations of forced labor are not accurate and it has made significant investments to improve working conditions over the past decade.