USTR Initiates Development of ‘First-Ever’ Trade Strategy to Combat Forced Labor

Forced Labor Concept (Two Workers Silhouetted) — Photo Credit: ILO Asia/Pacific via Global Citizen

Trade Update • JANUARY 28, 2021

As part of the Biden administration’s commitment to prevent human trafficking globally and address the systems that make communities vulnerable to labor exploitation, United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today announced that her agency will develop its first-ever focused trade strategy to combat forced labor.

“Eradicating forced labor is not just a moral imperative, but an economic necessity. Doing so also helps protect workers from unfair competition and raises global labor standards,” Tai said.

The announcement was made at the first meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking. In remarks to the gathering, Tai said the development of the forced labor strategy “will include a thorough interagency review of our existing trade policies and tools used to combat forced labor, including forced child labor, to determine areas that may need strengthening and gaps that need to be filled.”

“We will use this analysis to establish objectives, priorities, new tools, and key action items to advance our goals. We will also create an inclusive process that maximizes input from stakeholders, including labor organizations, civil society, survivors, and the private sector,” she added.

Trade Engagements

Vowing to continue advancing the work of eradicating forced labor, Tai highlighted several areas of engagement with other trade partners, including:

  • Continued work through the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiations to address the prevalent use of forced labor on fishing vessels;
  • Using the Trade and Technology Council to develop concrete actions for the United States and EU to coordinate on combatting forced and child labor;
  • Monitoring and upholding the nation’s forced labor obligations under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement to prohibit the importation of goods produced by forced labor; and
  • Contributing U.S. expertise on global supply chains in the implementation of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.

By working with trade partners in these ways, “we will demonstrate that we can raise global labor standards and provide an example for the rest of the world to follow,” Tai said.

Related Information


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