Category Archives: Trade

Uyghurs for sale: ‘Re-education’, forced labour and surveillance beyond Xinjiang

Source: Vicky Xiuzhong Xu, Danielle Cave, Dr James Leibold, Kelsey Munro & Nathan Ruser, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, 2020

From the summary:
….This report examines three case studies in which Uyghur workers appear to be employed under forced labour conditions by factories in China that supply major global brands. In the first case study, a factory in eastern China that manufactures shoes for US company Nike is equipped with watchtowers, barbed-wire fences and police guard boxes. The Uyghur workers, unlike their Han counterparts, are reportedly unable to go home for holidays (see page 8). In the second case study of another eastern province factory claiming to supply sportswear multinationals Adidas and Fila, evidence suggests that Uyghur workers were transferred directly from one of Xinjiang’s ‘re-education camps’ (see page 18). In the third case study, we identify several Chinese factories making components for Apple or their suppliers using Uyghur labour. Political indoctrination is a key part of their job assignments (see page 21)…..

In all, ASPI’s research has identified 83 foreign and Chinese companies directly or indirectly benefiting from the use of Uyghur workers outside Xinjiang through potentially abusive labour transfer programs: Abercrombie & Fitch, Acer, Adidas, Alstom, Amazon, Apple, ASUS, BAIC Motor, BMW, Bombardier, Bosch, BYD, Calvin Klein, Candy, Carter’s, Cerruti 1881, Changan Automobile, Cisco, CRRC, Dell, Electrolux, Fila, Founder Group, GAC Group (automobiles), Gap, Geely Auto, General Electric, General Motors, Google, H&M, Haier, Hart Schaffner Marx, Hisense, Hitachi, HP, HTC, Huawei, iFlyTek, Jack & Jones, Jaguar, Japan Display Inc., L.L.Bean, Lacoste, Land Rover, Lenovo, LG, Li-Ning, Marks & Spencer, Mayor, Meizu, Mercedes-Benz, MG, Microsoft, Mitsubishi, Mitsumi, Nike, Nintendo, Nokia, The North Face, Oculus, Oppo, Panasonic, Polo Ralph Lauren, Puma, Roewe, SAIC Motor, Samsung, SGMW, Sharp, Siemens, Skechers, Sony, TDK, Tommy Hilfiger, Toshiba, Tsinghua Tongfang, Uniqlo, Victoria’s Secret, Vivo, Volkswagen, Xiaomi, Zara, Zegna, ZTE.

Related:
China Uighurs ‘moved into factory forced labour’ for foreign brands
Source: BBC, March 1, 2020

Thousands of Muslims from China’s Uighur minority group are working under coercive conditions at factories that supply some of the world’s biggest brands, a new report says. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute said this was the next phase in China’s re-education of Uighurs. China has already detained about a million Uighurs at internment camps, punishing and indoctrinating them. Officials say the camps are aimed at countering extremism. The ASPI report comes after a senior Chinese official told reporters in December that members of the minority group being held in the camps had now “graduated”.

The ‘giant sucking sound’ of NAFTA: Ross Perot was ridiculed as alarmist in 1992 but his warning turned out to be prescient

Source: Harley Shaiken, The Conversation, July 12, 2019

…. As it turns out, Perot, who died on July 9, had a point. His projections were often fanciful, but his warning turned out to be prescient. ….

…. “You implement that NAFTA, the Mexican trade agreement, where they pay people a dollar an hour, have no health care, no retirement, no pollution controls,” Perot said during the second presidential debate in October 1992, “and you’re going to hear a giant sucking sound of jobs being pulled out of this country.”

The response to that remark was fierce and immediate. Economists argued he was dead wrong as they sang the praises of free trade. Perot’s warning, however, resonated with workers, unions, environmentalists and people in manufacturing towns across the country, helping him earn 20 million votes or about 19% of the total. ….

…..Scholars and policymakers often disagree about the impact that NAFTA has had on economic growth and job generation in the U.S. That impact, they say, is not always easy to disentangle from other economic, social and political factors that have influenced U.S. growth.

It is true that leaders of all three countries did tear down trade barriers and insert effective protections for corporations and investment. But critics like Perot were right – and Clinton was wrong – about the warning on jobs.

The Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, concluded that the U.S. lost about 850,000 jobs from 1993 to 2013 as a result of NAFTA and that number has undoubtedly risen. And the “social progress as well as economic growth” in relation to the agreement never seemed to appear. Despite strong productivity growth in U.S. and Mexican manufacturing, real wages sank by 17% in Mexico from 1994 to 2011 and slid in the U.S. as well. ….

Will Trump Push Too Far?

Source: Ryan Sweet, Regional Financial Review, Vol. 29 no. 9, May 2019
(subscription required)

The trade war between the U.S. and China continues to dominate the geopolitical sphere and cloud the global economic outlook. In this article we assess the damage so far from the trade tensions between the U.S. and China. We examine whether the tariffs have had their desired effect and highlight their costs. Finally, we present two scenarios, Trade War Standoff and Trade War Conflagration, to quantify how trade tensions could play out.

Dancing on Quicksand

Source: James M. Cypher and Mateo Crossa, Dollars & Sense, no. 341, March/April 2019
(subscription required)

A retrospective on NAFTA on the eve on its replacement. ….

…. NAFTA, signed in late 1993, was essentially an investment project for the United States, falsely portrayed as a “free” trade deal. ….. What the United States wanted was not more trade, but eh end to Mexico’s nationalist investment laws that had restricted here and how U.S. transnational companies could own plants beyond the border region. ….

Made for Next to Nothing. Worn by You?

Source: Elizabeth Paton, New York Times, February 6, 2019

A new report shows the depth of the fashion industry’s exploitation of female home workers in India. Ever since the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013, Western fashion brands have been under pressure to investigate and police their own supply chains. Now, a new report from the University of California, Berkeley, shows just how shadowy those supply lines are, as scores of labels rely not just on factories in India but also on exploited home workers…..

Related:
Tainted Garments: The Exploitation of Women and Girls in India’s Home-Based Garment Sector
Source: Siddharth Kara, University of California, Berkeley – Blum Center for Developing Economies, January 2019

This report offers the most wide-reaching and comprehensive investigation yet into the conditions of work for women and girls in India’s home-based garment sector. Women and girls tend to constitute a majority of home-based work across numerous informal sectors, along with the exploitative conditions that come with them, which in turn perpetuates the subordinated and oppressed status of women and girls. Due to the lack of transparency and the informal nature of home-based work, wages are almost always suppressed, conditions can be harsh and hazardous, and the worker has virtually no avenue to seek redress for abusive or unfair conditions. Power imbalances relating to gender further perpetuate the exploitation of female home-based workers, as their liaisons (i.e., labor subcontractors) are typically male and can often be verbally abusive or intimidating in order to secure compliance. The situation of the home-based workers is worsened by the fact that there is little to no regulation or enforcement from the state regarding their conditions of work. Indeed, the researchers found that home-based garment workers in India consist almost entirely of women and girls from historically oppressed ethnic communities who scarcely manage to earn $0.15 per hour…..

DELTA 8.7 – New data dashboards launched to inform policymaking on modern slavery and child labor

Source: United Nations University – Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR), 2018

What does delta mean?
The Greek letter delta—Δ—is used in mathematics and science to signify the amount of change in a particular variable.

What is 8.7?
In Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals, States committed to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate modern slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and child labour.

What do they mean together?
Delta + 8.7 = Measuring the change towards Target 8.7.

On any given day in 2016, the latest year for which we have a reliable estimate, 40.3 million people were in situations of modern slavery or forced labour—or one in every 174 people alive —and 152 million children were victims of child labour. Urgent action is needed to address these problems. With Target 8.7 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 193 countries pledged their commitment to take effective measures to eradicate modern slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and child labour.

But what are effective measures? What works to address these problems?

To answer these questions, the United Nations University – Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR) created Delta 8.7—an innovative project that helps policy actors understand and use data responsibly to inform policies that contribute to achieving Target 8.7. Delta 8.7 brings together the most useful data, evidence, research and news, analyses cutting-edge data, and helps people understand that data so it can be translated it into effective policy.

Resources
Dive deeper into Thematic Overviews, online and offline Learning Opportunities, original Research by the Delta 8.7 team, or explore the site Glossary.

Data and Measurement
Visit the Data Dashboards to explore evidence at the national, regional and global levels, or learn How to Measure the Change through our introductory materials on data science and measurement.

Forum
The Forum is the world’s leading venue for discussion of the latest data and evidence about forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour, and what it means for policy to achieve Target 8.7.

Call to Action
Explore the efforts of countries that have endorsed the UK’s Call to Action to End Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking.

FAQ: US state and local government exposure to rising trade tension

Source: Sunny Zhu, Patrick Liberatore, Ted Hampton, Denise Rappmund, Eric Hoffmann, Leonard Jones, Moody’s, Sector In-Depth, May 24, 2018
(subscription required)

Rising trade tension represents a major risk to the US and global economic outlook. Since 2017, the United States (Aaa stable) has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and imposed tariffs on washing machines, solar panels, steel, and aluminum. The US continues to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada (Aaa stable) and Mexico (A3 stable), and has threatened substantial tariffs against China (A1 stable) following a US Trade Representative investigation. Despite the recent softening of the trade rhetoric between the US and China, risks of recurring trade tension remain as negotiations on specific measures proceed. ….

The Anatomy of a NAFTA Deal

Source: Mark Zandi, Regional Financial Review, November 2017
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Though the talks have hit a stumbling block, a new NAFTA agreement with only small changes is likely. Dissolving the pact would result in significant near-term economic costs and risk diminishing North America’s long-term economic growth prospects. This paper assesses the economic impact of a new NAFTA and the potential economic fallout if the negotiations and NAFTA fail.