US Takes "America First" Tone to Slave-Made Goods

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Child SlaveryForced LaborSlavery-Free GoodsSupply Chain

The US Department of Labor has taken a new “America First” tone in publishing its biennial list of foreign goods made using slave or child labor.

Rather than seeing forced labor as primarily a human rights issue, the US government has reframed this as a trade issue, arguing that it is fighting against slave-made goods in order to “safeguard American jobs.”

Related Campaign: Help end forced labor.

In announcing the DOL list — comprised of 148 goods produced in 76 countries — Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta said, “American workers cannot compete with producers abroad who use child labor or forced labor.”

“The U.S. will do what it takes to protect vulnerable workers from exploitation, safeguard American jobs, and create a fair playing field for countries that play by the rules,” he added.

Thomson Reuters Foundation reports:

More than $400 billion worth of goods likely to be made by forced labor enter the U.S. market each year, said Annick Febrey, director of government relations with the Human Trafficking Institute, which advocates to end modern slavery.

“Child labor and forced labor are abhorrent practices that run counter to American values,” Martha Newton, deputy undersecretary of the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in emailed comments.

She said the Department of Labor’s change in tone echoed President Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda on international trade issues and could mean a more sustained effort to block forced labor-made goods from entering the country.

“It’s reflective of the current administration’s trade policies and focus on America First,” Febrey told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Eric Gottwald, legal and policy director for the International Labor Rights Forum in Washington DC, said he was struck by the Department of Labor’s new stance on forced labor being a problem because it puts American workers at a competitive disadvantage.

Historically, US foreign policy has considered goods made using slave labor as a gross violation of human rights.

“The current administration has placed more emphasis on…how American workers shouldn’t have to compete with forced or child laborers,” he said.

It became a crime to import goods made using forced or child labor in 2016 under a law introduced by President Barack Obama.

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D.
D.
2 years ago

Despite an effort to condemn the reasons behind the America 1st campaign, you’re wrong. For decades American corporations sold out their own working class laborers in favor of cheaper, exploitable labor overseas to make a profit. This in turn grew slavery and worker exploitation, depleting jobs here. Trump and the DOL want to holistically address this, there is an assumption it’s ONLY to put America 1st in some jingoistic fashion. It’s not, it’s @ stopping it at the root of the problem.

Geo
Geo
2 years ago
Reply to  D.

In response to D. This is complete and total propaganda! Stopping the root of the problem would mean to unite the working class across the globe not bullying and intimidating the entire world into doing what Amerikkka says or face the consequences of economic sanctions and war. Amerikkka has always looked out for itself and never for its own workers or the workers overseas. To stop the problem you have to get rid of the system that causes the problem not just the fascist who’s in charge.

Janet Hudgins
Janet Hudgins
2 years ago
Reply to  D.

You’re absolutely right. That’s why I’m behind the negotiations with Canada as we are assured that sell-out stops with this trade deal.

Kevin Butterfield
2 years ago
Reply to  D.

I don’t care about the motivation, as long as it helps end child and forced labor.

Geo
Geo
2 years ago

You not caring is one of the problems. Just like the “me too movement” and how it’s destroying people with allegations and solving none of the problems or even talking about sex slavery, this Amerikkka first propaganda will only pay lip service to petty bourgeoisie layers of society. When has the US government ever cared about forced labor anywhere? It’s doubtful that this joke of a president cares as well. Real poor article by Freedom United. I’ll be unsubscribing to these emails for now on.

Kagehi
Kagehi
2 years ago

Ultimately.. It won’t, because this has been “fought” for far longer than Trump and the DOL have bothered, and has been ignored under “all” administrations, going clear back to Reagan, and beyond, regardless of which “party” was involved. What has been happening instead is that, when ever possible, the right has “expanded” their definition of “trafficking” to do pure witch hunts, and for their own political gains. If they had no political “gain” from this, they wouldn’t be doing it now either.

Timothy A. Spong
Timothy A. Spong
2 years ago

I agree with “D.” and Kevin Butterfield. Don’t be afraid to take “yes” for an answer.

Joe Sanders
Joe Sanders
2 years ago

Do we have lAWS TO STOP IMPORT OF CHILD OR SLAVE MADE PRODUCTS?

Elizabeth A. Cerny
Elizabeth A. Cerny
2 years ago
Reply to  Joe Sanders

Yes, passed in 2016, under Obama, according to the article.

Myron Smith
Myron Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Joe Sanders

Agree Laws to stop Import of Child and Slave made products is better for USA! Join the discussion…

Brian Glennie
Brian Glennie
2 years ago

Are goods and services made by U.S. prisoners who get a $1 a day not considered Slave labor too ?.?…

Alvin Sepert
Alvin Sepert
2 years ago

Sounds good. Your average American doesn’t care about anything beyond North America so framing this as a trade issue affecting American jobs is a master stroke. Who cares about the language, lets stop these people being exploited. OK they may starve and die but hey, the Liberals can feel good so that’s what matters.

pascal molineaux
2 years ago

EVERYTHING in this administration is,seen with the prism of Trade, money-making and transactional. Child and forced labor is eminently a human rights issue and playing by the rules of Fair Trade and dignified working conditions. To ignore or downplay that reality is misguided.