The U.S. Senate is poised to vote this week on a fast-track trade deal among 12 Asia-Pacific countries.
However, one of those countries–Malaysia–has been identified by the U.S. State Dept. as a persistent slavery hot spot, and anti-trafficking organizations are urging Senators to exclude countries with poor track records on modern-day slavery from fast-tracking in global trade agreements.
Free the Slaves has joined its colleagues in the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) to support the Menendez-Wyden Amendment to the trade bill, proposed by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).
“Under the amendment, countries that are on Tier 3 in the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report would not receive expedited consideration of trade agreements unless the country has taken concrete actions to implement the principal recommendations for that country that are contained in the latest TIP Report,” ATEST says in a statement released Tuesday.
Tier 3 designations go to countries “whose governments do not fully comply with minimum standards” for combatting trafficking and slavery “and are not making significant efforts to do so,” the State Dept. says. The department designated 23 nations as Tier 3 countries in its latest Trafficking in Persons Report.
Excluding these countries from fast-tracked favored trade status with the U.S. would demonstrate America’s commitment to fighting modern-day slavery.
“This approach strengthens U.S. leadership to prevent and end human trafficking around the world and protect the most vulnerable workers,” said David Abramowitz, vice president for policy and government relations at Humanity United, a philanthropic organization that supports ATEST’s work. “These provisions provide a new tool to promote real change and improve conditions for trafficked and exploited workers. We commend Senator Menendez for championing this important issue and for all those involved in reaching an agreement on the amendment.”
Learn more about removing slavery from global trade on our slavery-free commerce webpage.