The Malaysian Rubber Gloves Manufacturers Association (Margma) today clarified that the US ban on rubber gloves only targeted one specific Malaysian firm and was not a blanket ban on all rubber gloves made in Malaysia.
"The fact of the matter is that only gloves from one specific Malaysian company are banned and not Malaysian rubber gloves as a whole.
"The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has deemed that a particular company to be involved in forced labour and has since banned that company's goods from entering the US," Margma said in a statement today.
Earlier today, Reuters reported that the US has blocked the import of goods suspected to have been made with forced labour from five countries.
It said this included rubber gloves made in Malaysia, clothing from China, diamonds from Zimbabwe, gold from mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo and bone black ( a form of charcoal) manufactured in Brazil.
Margma also said it was "deeply saddened" that journalistic prudence was not exercised in the publication of the report.
"It is our hope that clarity will prevail upon the fact that it is just one company that is banned and not all Malaysian rubber gloves are banned," it said.
Margma stressed that its members took great concern over the welfare of their workers.
"The industry has since last year worked on social compliance initiatives in order to continuously improve the welfare of the employees in the rubber glove industry.
"We have formed a social compliance committee and organised a national seminar under the purview of the Malaysian Rubber Export Promotion Council (MREPC).
"There is a lot of compliance to be done and there is a lot of work to be carried out to ensure that workers' rights, their accommodation and general welfare protected and for these initiatives, time and expenditure are required and together we have drawn out a programme that will make our industry fully in compliance," said the association.
Margma added that it has also updated the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and the US Department of Labour on the implementation of social compliance standards for the Malaysian rubber glove industry.
"Margma is taking social compliance very seriously to ensure that the shipments of gloves to the US and globally are in total compliance.
"As a matter of comfort, many American companies do carry out periodic audits on manufacturers to ensure there is compliance," it said.