The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) today submitted a proposal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) bringing attention to the use of forced labor on fishing vessels. The proposal urges WTO Members to help address this global problem in the ongoing negotiations to curb harmful subsidies to fishing activities that may be associated with the use of forced labor, such as illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
“Forced labor harms the lives and well-being of fishers and workers around the world and it must be eliminated,” said Ambassador Katherine Tai. “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to fighting forced labor wherever it occurs. We will continue to work closely with our partners and allies to promote a fair international trading system that addresses the sustainability of fisheries resources, and benefits workers and citizens around the world.”
In addition to the human cost, forced labor gives fishing vessels who engage in the practice an unfair cost advantage. It also exacerbates overfishing and the depletion of the world’s oceans. Recognizing the link between forced labor and the harmful subsidies that may also go to these vessels is an important step in tackling this pervasive problem.
“The WTO has an opportunity to address this issue with a meaningful agreement that increases transparency and accountability in global supply chains,” added Ambassador Tai. “I urge WTO Members to consider the full range of trade tools at our disposal to combat forced labor and other exploitative labor conditions.”
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