Importation of products made with forced, or indentured child, labour is prohibited by law. Studies indicate that child labour is endemic in much of the developing world, and can be found in many industries, for example, hand-knotted carpets, apparel, footwear, brassware, silk, glassware, bricks, furniture, food-processing, gem polishing, leather tanning, and small-scale mining.
Recently, the U.S. Customs Service and the Department of Labor launched an investigation to determine whether firecrackers and other goods made with forced child labour in China are being imported into the United States in violation of U.S. law.
Preferential tariffs/quotas and labour practices are now closely linked. For instance, in 2002, Cambodia’s tariff quotas were increased by the EU by 9% as a result of improved labour practices.
How can we help?
Forced and indentured child labour under penal sanction is a serious issue for the trading community. There is a growing concern among consumers that goods they buy should be produced in conditions that are safe and decent and which enable working people to maintain their dignity and a reasonable standard of living. Companies are responding by drawing up codes of conduct. For example, in the US up to 85% of large companies now have codes of conduct. Due to our working knowledge of the relevant trade and customs regulations, we are well placed to provide assistance in key areas of a sustainability audit; and the development of an ethical supply chain.