Is Xinjiang Nephrite Banned in the US?Is Xinjiang Nephrite Banned in the US?

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Is Xinjiang Nephrite Banned in the US?

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Question:Is nephrite jade from Xinjiang, China banned in the United States?
Xinjiang jade market
Hotan, Xinjiang, China — October 4, 2017: Uyghur vendors sell jade stones and other minerals at their market stalls in the Jade Bazaar by the Yurungkax river, bargaining with customers hunting for sales. Photo by rweisswald/shutterstock.

Answer: The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) directs the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to presume that imports of "any goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China" were made with forced labor. The importation of such goods into the US is prohibited. This would include Xinjiang nephrite jade. However, importers may "rebut" that presumption. That means they can try to prove that their goods were not made with forced labor and, thus, are exempt.

What Does the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Do?

In December 2021, President Biden signed the UFLPA. The legislation banned the importation of all goods from Xinjiang, China, where the Chinese government established forced labor camps for Uyghurs, an ethnic minority group, and other Muslim groups. The international community has condemned China for committing genocide in the Xinjiang region. China denies this allegation and asserts that the camps are "vocational training centers."

The CBP started enforcing the UFLPA on June 21, 2022. However, the law includes a "rebuttable presumption." This means importers bear the burden of proving that goods imported from Xinjiang did not involve forced labor. The CBP has set the bar high for receiving an exemption.

The Department of Homeland Security has issued Operational Guidance for Importers as well as an FAQ for the UFLPA.

Does the UFLPA cover Xinjiang Nephrite?

The Xinjiang region of China, officially known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), produces nephrite jade. Importantly, it produces white "mutton fat" nephrite jade. In China, the largest market for jade, consumers consider this variety the most highly desireable type of nephrite.

mutton fat jade
Intricately carved mutton fat jade. Photo by Augusten Burroughs/shutterstock.

The CBP has issued a list of UFLPA-banned entities that mainly seems to include textile and technology companies. Whether any of the companies on this list are gemstone mining companies or subsidiaries isn't clear. However, you can logically conclude that the UFLPA ban applies to Xinjiang-mined nephrite.

Please note that the UFLPA only applies to material imported on or after June 21, 2022.

What Should Nephrite Dealers Do?

Although Xinjiang is an important source of nephrite, Canada and Russia are also significant producers. Notably, British Columbia, Canada produces more nephrite than any other region. Unfortunately, establishing the provenance of nephrite pieces, especially specific mines, proves very difficult. To avoid confrontation with the CBP, US dealers should ensure they have a clear record of the chain of custody for their nephrite.

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