Demand No Longer Justifies U.S. Imports of Slave Labor Goods
For the past 84 years, an exemption in U.S. law allowed the import of goods produced by slaves and others forced into labor, including children, as long as demand exceeded supply. In two weeks, that will be illegal.
President Barack Obama signed a trade bill Wednesday that includes a provision closing a loophole in a law that went into effect in 1932.
That measure, the Tariff Act of 1930, did prohibit slave labor imports, but said the ban did not apply to any goods that were not otherwise produced in large enough quantities to "meet the consumptive demands of the United States."
The new bill was introduced last year as rights groups called attention to abusive labor practices, particularly in the fishing industry in Southeast Asia.
The U.N.'s International Labor Organization estimates 21 million people are victims of forced labor worldwide, more than half of them in the Asia-Pacific region. That labor brings companies more than $150 billion in illegal profits, according to the U.N.
Diplomats Further Push for Syria Cease-Fire
U.N. diplomats are considering a Security Council resolution endorsing a U.S. and Russian backed cease-fire in Syria, which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says is "the one way that we can end this war."
Syria's warring parties have until midday Friday to say if they are participating in the cessation of hostilities that is due to begin 12 hours later.
U.S. and Russian officials are holding further discussions Thursday on implementing the cease-fire, and Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov reiterated that Russia is not discussing any alternatives to the plan.
The Syrian government has said it will take part, but will continue attacking Islamic State and al-Qaida-linked terrorists, which are excluded from the cease-fire.
The main opposition High Committee for Negotiations (HNC) gave a reserved endorsement for the cease-fire on Wednesday, saying it will participate for two weeks to determine the commitment of the other side.