EU Strikes Deal to Ban Products Made Using Forced Labor

Brussels — The European Union moved a step closer Tuesday to banning products made from forced labor after negotiators reached an agreement on a law that supporters hope will help block imports from China involving the Uyghur Muslim minority.

The bloc’s draft text does not specifically mention China, but focuses on all products made from forced labor, including those made within the European Union.

Human rights groups say at least one million people, mostly members of Muslim minorities, have been incarcerated in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region and face widespread abuses, including forced sterilization of women and coerced labor.

Nearly 28 million people, including 3.3 million children, are in forced labor around the world, according to the International Labor Organization.

Under the new law, the European Commission must open investigations when there is suspicion of forced labor in a company’s supply chains outside the EU.

Meanwhile, the EU’s 27 member states will be expected to launch probes when the forced labor is suspected inside the bloc.

If the use of forced labor is proven, the relevant goods can be seized at the borders and withdrawn from the European market and online marketplaces.

Companies can be fined for any violations. Although the law does not set a minimum or maximum limit, officials said fines should be an amount that acts as a deterrent.

If a company removes forced labor from their supply chains, the banned products can return to the European market.

“The prevalence of forced labor products on our market is becoming ever more apparent, most notably with products made with Uyghur forced labor. This is unacceptable,” said EU lawmaker Maria Manuel Leitao Marques, who spearheaded the text through parliament.

“We can no longer turn a blind eye to what is happening in our supply chains,” she said.

The US Congress in 2021 banned all imports from Xinjiang, unless companies in the region can prove that their production does not include forced labor.

The EU law, first proposed in 2022, will become official after formal adoption by the EU’s 27 member states and parliament.

“We now urge member states to respect the deal… and finalize the new law as soon as possible,” socialist EU lawmaker Raphael Glucksmann said.

“The EU is on track to ban products made with forced labor from our market,” the EU’s most senior trade official, Valdis Dombrovskis, said on social media.

“This will now require careful and effective implementation,” he said.

your ad here

leave a reply: