US About to Ban Cotton Produced by Uighur Slave Labourers
The potential ban, which could affect a wide range of apparel and other products will force the managers Western companies to the switch supply chains.
Among the firms, which will have to finally abandon the low-cost suppliers exploiting slave labour are the major international apparel brands, such as Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss.
The scope of the order remains unclear, including whether it would cover all cotton products shipped from Xinjiang or China, or potentially extend to items that contain Xinjiang cotton and are shipped from third countries.
Human rights studies showed that many global producers sources cotton, textiles, petrochemicals and even food from Communist China suppliers located in the Xinjiang region, which Uyghurs call Turkestan.
On Monday, Labor Day in the United States, the State Department spokesperson, Ms Morgan Ortagus, reminded Americans about the fact that Uyghurs are working in the Chinese manufacturing plans against their will.
"The Chinese Communist Party detains, indoctrinates, and forces Uyghurs and members of religious and ethnic minority groups to work, often in dangerous conditions", Ms Mortagus stated. "Enough is enough. We call upon the CCP to end the use of forced labour", she stressed.
Any decision of the US Administration to block cotton or other imports could have huge implications for global apparel-makers.
"A symbolic and needed decision"
The ban will be symbolic and important for the moral stance of the West but it will probably not correct other injustices in the region, Dr Wolfgang Schluetzer, former Professor at the University of Frankfurt in Frankfurt, Germany told The Owner.
The move will most likely benefit Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh where global brands will look for inexpensive labour.
"The governments of these countries portray their grossly underpaid and uninsured workers, who offer inexpensive labour as a competitive feature of their low-tech economies. But in the same time, the regimes of these countries, especially dominated by the Communist Parties, benefit from the international contacts, the know-how and, often, the direct payments in exchange for lucrative contracts", explained Dr Schluetzer.
The US Administration is not able to deal with this issue because it would risk losing correct relations with these countries at the time of the major economic confrontation with Beijing.
In July, the US Administration placed several apparel companies on a blacklist that prevented them from buying American products, citing their use of forced labour in Xinjiang. The firms caught up in the debate over whether their products are made with forced labour say the opaque nature of Chinese supply chains can make it difficult to trace exactly where cotton is sourced.