RICHMOND, Va., Aug. 7, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Universal Corporation (NYSE: UVV) announced today that it has successfully obtained a modification from U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") of an existing Withhold Release Order ("WRO") on all imports of tobacco from Malawi into the United States. The modification, effective July 31, 2020, excludes the Company's Malawi subsidiary, Limbe Leaf Tobacco Company Ltd. ("Limbe Leaf"), from the WRO and confirms that tobacco imported from Limbe Leaf is admissible at all U.S. ports of entry.
CBP issued the WRO on November 1, 2019, based on a suspicion that forced labor was used in Malawi to produce the country's tobacco crop. The Company immediately engaged with CBP and subsequently filed a comprehensive explanation of Limbe Leaf's supply chain social compliance program, its efforts to identify and minimize the risks of forced labor on contracted farms from which it purchases tobacco in Malawi, and its ability to trace such tobacco once processed and shipped from the shipping vessel back to the individual farms on which it was produced. CBP rigorously evaluated the Company's filing and concluded that Limbe Leaf's program and on-farm efforts produced evidence that sufficiently supported the Company's claims that tobacco purchased from Limbe Leaf is not produced or harvested using forced labor.
George C. Freeman, III, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Universal Corporation, said he was pleased with CBP's decision. "Universal Corporation is committed to the sustainable production of tobacco. Our commitment is evidenced by our Agricultural Labor Practices program and other sustainability policies, and by the implementation and maintenance of those programs and policies by our operations around the world. We are proud of Limbe Leaf's dedication to the sustainable production of tobacco in Malawi, and we appreciate CBP's recognition of those efforts."
Universal Corporation (NYSE: UVV), headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, sources, processes, and supplies agri-products. Tobacco has been our principal focus since our founding in 1918, and we are the leading global leaf tobacco supplier. We conduct business in more than 30 countries on five continents. Our revenues for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020, were $1.9 billion. For more information on Universal Corporation, including information about our sustainability programs and policies, visit our website at www.universalcorp.com.