Europe Addresses Chinese Forced Labor Compared to US

( – In September of 2022 the European Union proposed new rules to allow customs to remove products from the market that were found to have been produced with forced labor. Forced labor includes slavery, coercion and prisoner labor. These types of law are sometimes criticized as targeting China specifically because of the Uyghurs, a minority Muslim ethnic group within China, many of whom are in forced labor camps Xinjiang, China.

The European Union formally adopted these rules on March 5.

However, these rules would apply to forced labor of any kind and in any country. The United States has much stricter laws regarding goods produced by forced labor, including the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which was signed into law by President Biden in 2021. Five years ago, the U.S. called upon the EU to address the human rights abuses of the Uyghurs and tighten their standards for the import of goods that are produced with forced labor.

The EU has been slow to address their forced labor imports. Yalkun Uluyol, who is a member of a forced labor research group at Sheffield Hallam University, says that EU nations have already become a “dumping ground” for forced labor-produced products. He added that while companies will sometimes make claims of compliance with U.S. standards for such products when they are exporting them to the U.S, they make no such claims for consumer goods for sale in the EU or anywhere else.

The United Kingdom and Canada have been much quicker to align themselves with U.S. laws on forced labor goods, but Brussels and the EU have lagged. As slow as they are to adopt, with rules proposed all the way back in 2022, they are also more lax than the American standards. The newly adopted laws do not directly address China’s abuses, which some say may be linked to the EU’s aim to comply with World Trade Organization rules that forbid discrimination against any specific country. The EU rules would also include a higher burden of proof of human rights violations to investigate such violations than the US, which only requires the suspicion of forced labor to initiate.

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