Statement by the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking on S. 1269, The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015
For Release: May 14, 2015
The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) strongly supports section 912 of S. 1269, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015.
This provision strengthens existing authority to prohibit the importation of goods made with forced, prison, or other exploitative labor. The Act removes a pernicious exception to this existing authority that allows for the importation of such goods if there is a “consumptive demand” for them.
“U.S. consumers do not want to be buying products made by prisoners in China or the worst forms of child labor in Africa,” said David Abramowitz, Vice President for Policy and Government Relations, at Humanity United, a philanthropic organization that supports the ATEST’s work. “Current law hamstrings the Department of Homeland Security investigations into these imports. We need to make sure that our government can do everything it can to stop the misuse of our open markets by those who exploit others.”
The Department of Labor, Bureau of International Labor Affairs’ “List of Goods Tainted by Forced Labor and Child labor” lists over 35 countries that produce goods made with forced labor or child labor. Currently, an effective mechanism to ensure goods consumed in the United States are not produced using convict, forced, or indentured labor does not exist. The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, which prohibits importation of goods made with forced labor or convict labor, has major loopholes for goods that cannot be produced in the United States in sufficient quantities to meet the consumptive demands of American consumers. Courts have also ruled that consumers do not have standing to sue for enforcement of these laws. Consequently, there are fewer than 40 enforcement actions on record in the past 80 years.
The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) is a U.S. based coalition that advocates for solutions to prevent and end all forms of human trafficking and modern slavery around the world. ATEST member organizations include: Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), ECPAT-USA, Free the Slaves, Futures Without Violence (FUTURES), International Justice Mission, National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), National Network for Youth (NN4Y), Polaris, Safe Horizon, Solidarity Center, Verité, Vital Voices Global Partnership, and World Vision. ATEST is a project of Humanity United.