G7 doubles down on fighting Uyghur forced labor

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G7 trade ministers on Friday reiterated a commitment to tackle forced labor worldwide at a meeting in London and added specific phrases to make clear that Beijing was in their crosshairs.

“We, the G7 Trade Ministers, share and are guided by the concern expressed by our Leaders in Carbis Bay in 2021 regarding the use of all forms of forced labor in global supply chains, including state-sponsored forced labor of vulnerable groups and minorities, including in the agricultural, solar and garment sectors,” the joint statement reads, in a barely veiled reference to China.

There are deep concerns about China’s internment of its Muslim Uyghur minority in the western region of Xinjiang, which involves forced labor, including in the three sectors listed in the statement.

Around 21 million people worldwide are forced labor victims, according to the International Labor Organization. The Asia-Pacific region, which includes China, accounts for more than half of those forced laborers, or about 11.7 million people.

On September 15, Brussels announced its intention to ban goods using forced labor. The U.S., Canada and the U.K. have already taken steps to ban goods made with forced labor through import bans. The EU, however, is still hesitating about whether to include the ban in its upcoming supply chain rules or to create a separate law.

The G7 group of the world’s wealthiest democracies — made up of the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Canada — declared in May that it would seek to root out forced labor from global supply chains.

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