Addressing Forced Labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region: collective action to develop new sourcing opportunities

Ethnic conflict Forced labour Clothing trade Ethnic communities International trade Human rights Supply chain China

This report is the fourth in a series that the CSIS Human Rights Initiative has produced identifying strategies for businesses, governments, nongovernmental organisations, and multilateral organisations to coordinate and address forced labor linked to China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). The XUAR produces around a fifth of the world’s cotton and is its largest exporter of textiles and apparel. Due to repressive government programs transferring hundreds of thousands of members of Muslim minority populations into jobs in the XUAR, production in China may introduce forced labor into global supply chains. To avoid these forced labor-affected inputs, multiple actors must work together to develop new sourcing opportunities.

This report argues that to speed the development of alternate sourcing hubs that are free of XUAR-linked forced labor, public and private actors must coordinate to encourage long-term investment in new locations, and international human rights and environmental standards must form a fundamental element of the strategy. Preferential trade policy, infrastructure and development aid, import restrictions and sanctions, public apparel procurement, and investment incentives all offer opportunities to diversify supply chains and protect garment workers’ labor rights. Countries in Asia, Central America, and East and West Africa show potential for expanding their roles in the apparel, textile, and footwear sectors.

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