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The world’s richest countries are the top buyers of goods at risk of being made by slaves

By Youyou Zhou
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Modern slavery is everywhere in the global economy. A chocolate bar in a UK store might have been made from beans picked by children on cocoa farms in Ghana. Clothes from US brands made in India, could rely on migrant workers who are only allowed to leave manufacturer-provided housing for two hours a week.

Forced labor is more likely to occur in poor countries or countries with authoritarian governments, according to a report released yesterday on global slavery by the Walk Free Foundation. Rich countries are still big buyers.

The report defines modern slavery as situations of exploitation where a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, or abuse of power. The US is the biggest importer of goods at risk of modern slavery, according to the report. A smartphone from a US store could be made from factories where workers paid less than minimum wages while working overtime. The packaged shrimp from a supermarket could have been caught by fishermen trafficked to Thailand and kept in cages. The US Customs and Border Protection has put up a list of products banned due to suspicions of its labor supply. As of July 2018, there are only 45 items on the list.

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