On October 8, the US Department of Labor (“DOL”) published a notice requesting information and comments on the following three reports on child labor and forced labor practices in foreign countries that are published by the US Bureau of International Labor Affairs (“ILAB”). The comments will be used in preparing the 2022 edition of the TDA Report and TVPRA List, as well as any updates to the E.O. List. The three reports are the US government’s key public statements on the issue of forced labor and child labor around the world. Specifically:
- The 2020 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor report (“TDA Report”): The TDA report is mandated by the Transportation Development Act (“TDA”) which requires that countries implement their international law commitments to eliminate the worst forms of child labor to be considered for designation as a beneficiary developing country under the Generalized System of Preferences program. This requirement is reinforced by the President’s obligation to submit to the United States Congress the Secretary of Labor’s findings with respect to each “beneficiary country’s implementation of its international commitments to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.” The TDA report details ILAB’s findings on the issue. Specifically, it assesses efforts of 131 countries to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in the relevant year, determines whether they have made any advancement, and suggests action they could take to facilitate elimination of the worst forms of child labor.
- The List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor (“TVPRA List”): The TVPRA List is published to fulfill DOL’s mandate under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act to publish a list of goods believed to be produced by child labor or forced labor in violation of international standards. The list is not intended to be punitive; rather, it aims to raise public awareness about forced labor and child labor around the world and to promote efforts to combat them. As of June 23, 2021, the TVPRA List includes 156 goods from 77 countries. It consists of 437 line items (a line item is a unique combination of a country/area and a good).
- The List of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor (“E.O. List”): The E.O. List identifies products and their countries of origin that DOL, in consultation with the Departments of State and Homeland Security, has a reasonable basis to believe might have been mined, produced, or manufactured with forced or indentured child labor. As of March 25, 2019 (the latest edition), the E.O. List comprises 34 products from 25 countries. While the TVPRA List is geared towards the general public, the E.O. List is most relevant to federal contractors who, when supplying products included on the E.O. List, are required by the US Federal Acquisition Regulations to certify that they have made a good faith effort to determine whether forced or indentured child labor was used.
The notice also includes a request for information and/or comment on Comply Chain: Business Tools for Labor Compliance in Global Supply Chains (“Comply Chain”). Specifically, ILAB is seeking information on current practices of firms, business associations, and other private sector groups to reduce the likelihood of child labor and forced labor in the production of goods. This information is sought to fulfill ILAB’s mandate under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 to work with persons who are involved in the production of goods made with forced labor or child labor. Comply Chain seeks to address this mandate by creating a standard set of practices aimed at reducing the likelihood that such persons will produce goods using forced labor or child labor.
DOL has issued a request for comments on the TDA Report, TVPRA List, and E.O. List. Comments are due on January 15, 2022. Companies with global supply chains should consider taking advantage of this opportunity to have a voice in US supply chain policy by sharing their comments, as well as current practices directed at identifying and preventing forced labor and child labor in their supply chain, with DOL. The three ILAB reports are an important source of information for companies seeking to assess and mitigate risk in their global supply chains. Among other things, they can be used as a helpful tool in determining the focus and extent of due diligence performed on new suppliers, scoping supply chain audits; planning global risk assessments, and determining the company’s global supply chain strategy. Also, the three reports may provide a sense of where the US Government could focus its enforcement resources in trade and other measures intended to keep forced labor and child labor out of company’s supply chains.