UK Lawmakers Call for Crackdown on Companies With Supply Chain Links to Forced Uighur Labour

A farmer harvests cotton in Hami, Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region of China. Getty Images.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has recommended tougher measures, including financial penalties and blacklisting firms that fail to show that their supply chains do not pass through the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. The directive came in a report that said existing UK legislation surrounding supply chain transparency and modern slavery “is out of date [and] has no teeth.” The report in particular highlighted the role of the fashion industry in addressing this, noting that many industry players have “accepted that it is not currently possible to fully trace the cotton used in final products, which means cotton produced in Xinjiang could still be part of their supply chains.”

This comes amid mounting pressure for fashion companies to disclose — and extricate themselves from — the use of commodities such as cotton from the Xinjiang region of China, where human and labour rights abuses against Uighur Muslims have been widely reported. Earlier this year, US Customs and Border Protection said it would detain cotton and tomato products produced in the region.

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