American Apparel & Footwear Association President and CEO Steve Lamar testified today as part of the House Ways and Means, Trade subcommittee hearing on “Enforcing the Ban on Imports Produced by Forced Labor in Xinjiang.” The hearing focused on responding to continuing reports of forced labor in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
“For more than 20 years, our members have implemented some of the most rigorous due diligence activities the private sector can muster to ferret out unethical practices and to support ethical manufacturing around the world,” said Lamar in prepared remarks. “These efforts have uncovered forced, bonded, and prison labor in subcontract facilities around the world. When we find it, our members act – resulting in millions of dollars in repayment of illegal recruitment fees, stronger protections for workers, payment of unpaid overtime and severance pay, and better and safer working conditions around the world.”
In his remarks, Lamar emphasized that:
- The apparel and footwear industry remains committed to ending forced labor;
- The problem in XUAR is bigger than any one industry can handle, and requires sustained government to government pressure;
- The tools used to address the situation must be targeted, transparent, prospective, fact-based, and developed with the trusted industry partners that will ultimately enforce them; and
- Actions should remain focused on the end goal of ending forced labor practices and the larger campaign of repression that it fuels, by among other things ensuring that solutions involve the partnership of industry, NGOs, unions, Congress, the rest of the U.S. government, and other governments.
Photo Credit: AAFA