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Updated March 5th, 2024 at 17:43 IST

EU Reaches Deal on Forced Labour Ban Eying China’s Xinjiang

China has not been explicitly named by the EU in the document, as it needs to comply with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

Reported by: Digital Desk
China Europe
Chinese leader Xi Jinping and European Council President Charles Michel. | Image:AP
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European Union on Tuesday reached a provisional agreement to advance a legislation to ban the forced labour eyeing the Xinjiang province of China. The measure would need to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council. The EU member states are expected to target the specific economic sectors based on the database extracted by the European Commission. It will be imposed in the places where forced labour exists. 

China has not been explicitly named by the EU in the document, as it needs to comply with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. The European measure is unlike the US ban which specifically targets goods made in Xinjiang.

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“It is appalling that in the 21st-century slavery and forced labour still exist in the world,” Pierre-Yves Dermagne, the deputy prime minister of Belgium, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said, according to South China Morning Post newspaper. “This hideous crime must be eradicated and the first step to achieve this consists in breaking the business model of companies that exploit workers,” he added.

EU provision to apply to products worldwide

EU provision will apply to products from all over the world. In the parliament, the parties clashed over who would administer the measure on the ban that they argue will drain the state resources. Eventually, the EU parliament and council diplomats reached an agreement to investigate the companies’ supply chains outside the bloc.

As per the probe, the authorities will have the liberty to pull off the goods from the market for sale and subsequently confiscate them at the border. In accordance with the measure, the EU will identify the higher risk-prone regions where they suspect the forced labour. The EU customs will demand more information about the importers and exporters, manufacturers as well as the suppliers.

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Samira Rafaela, a lawmaker who led negotiations on the deal was was quoted saying by the South China Morning Post that the measure is “groundbreaking in the field of human rights”. “It will prevent forced labour products from entering our market. And it has several references to remediation. It is a step forward in achieving fair trade and cleaning up supply chains, while prioritising human rights.”

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Published March 5th, 2024 at 17:43 IST

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