The governments of the U.S. and Japan announced the formation of a task force aimed at protecting human rights in supply chains following a ceremony late last week.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Japan’s Minister for Economy, Trade, and Industry Nishimura Yasutoshi on Friday signed a Memorandum of Cooperation to launch the Task Force on the Promotion of Human Rights and International Labor Standards in Supply Chains. The task force was established under the authority of the U.S.-Japan Partnership on Trade.
“The launch of this Task Force is another example of how trade can be a force for good throughout the world,” Tai said in a statement. “Developing new tools that bring together the combined expertise of agencies across the Governments of the United States and Japan will help contribute to tackling worker exploitation in global supply chains.”
Tai added that Japan’s government “has consistently been a trusted partner in the fight to promote workers’ rights and drive the race to the top in trade.”
The U.S. government actively tracks goods believed to be produced by forced labor or child labor in violation of international standards and their source countries as a means of raising awareness of those issues in global supply chains. The list, which is maintained by the Labor Department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, comprised 158 goods from 77 countries as of September 28, 2022.
The task force will aim to build on those efforts by communicating about domestic laws aimed at eradicating forced labor in supply chains and promoting international labor standards, including the status of enforcement plans and related best practices. It will also work with stakeholders such as businesses and trade associations; workers’ groups; and civil society, including survivors of forced labor, to promote dialogues about ending forced labor and reaffirming labor standards.
Those dialogues will include multi-stakeholder engagement and listening sessions regarding:
- The effects of trade policies and regulations implemented by the governments of the U.S. and Japan on workers and businesses related to relevant labor laws and internationally recognized labor rights.
- Best practices on human rights due diligence in supply chains for developing, implementing, and monitoring related procedures, such as programs to promote the voice of workers and remediate their concerns.
- Outreach to business owners and corporate management regarding the best practices on human rights due diligence in supply chains.
The task force will meet bi-annually unless participants decide otherwise. It will be chaired by U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Nishimura Yasutoshi, or their successors in those roles.
It will be composed of their respective agencies in addition to Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Labor, and State, in addition to other agencies as appropriate.