EU proposes to ban products made with forced labor

BRUSSELS: The European Commission on Wednesday (September 14) proposed an EU ban on products made by forced labor with legislation that will add to existing US pressure on China, but is likely to change before it takes effect.

The EU executive does not name any countries in its proposal, but it follows a European Parliament call for such a law in June that highlighted human rights concerns in China’s northern region. Xinjiang.

Rights groups accuse Beijing of abuses against Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority, in Xinjiang, including mass forced labor in internment camps.

The United States, which accuses China of genocide, introduced a law in 2021 that broadly bans the import of goods from Xinjiang.

China denies abuses in the region, a major cotton producer that also supplies materials for solar panels.

The EU proposal highlights the 27.6 million people the International Labor Organization said were engaged in forced labor in 2021, 11% more than in 2016.

Just over half were in the Asia-Pacific region, although the highest per capita level is in the Arab States. Forced labor is also a problem in high-income countries.