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Enforcing International Labor Standards

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I don’t write much about international labor standards these days, since basically it has completely disappeared from our political world, even on the left. To think about this would take away from Trump doomscrolling I guess. In any case, I have long said that not only can we create and enforce international labor standards, we already do this, mostly around Chinese prison labor. Now BMW, Jaguar, and Volkswagen are in trouble for using Chinese forced labor in cars imported to the U.S.

A congressional investigation found that BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and Volkswagen purchased parts that originated from a Chinese supplier flagged by the United States for participating in forced labor programs in Xinjiang, a far western region of China where the local population is subject to mass surveillance and detentions.

Both BMW and Jaguar Land Rover continued to import components made by the Chinese company into the United States in violation of American law, even after they were informed in writing about the presence of banned products in their supply chain, the report said.

BMW shipped to the United States at least 8,000 MINI vehicles containing the part after the Chinese supplier was added in December to a U.S. government list of companies participating in forced labor. Volkswagen took steps to correct the issue.

The investigation, which began in 2022 by the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Ron Wyden of Oregon, a Democrat, highlights the risk for major automakers as the United States tries to enforce a two-year-old law aimed at blocking goods from Xinjiang. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act bars goods made in whole or in part in Xinjiang from being imported to the United States, unless the importer can prove that they were not made with forced labor.

In a statement, Mr. Wyden said that “automakers are sticking their heads in the sand and then swearing they can’t find any forced labor in their supply chains.”

“Somehow, the Finance Committee’s oversight staff uncovered what multibillion-dollar companies apparently could not: that BMW imported cars, Jaguar Land Rover imported parts, and VW AG manufactured cars that all included components made by a supplier banned for using Uyghur forced labor,” he added. “Automakers’ self-policing is clearly not doing the job.”

You know, we could do this for all countries. Sometimes, talk about political will is silly. But in this case, it really is political will.

Also, you can presently buy Out of Sight for $2.99 on your Kindle, so you know, if you care about this stuff, I do have a whole book about it.

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