WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the European Commission today led the inaugural principals’ meeting of the U.S. and European Union tripartite Trade and Labor Dialogue.
The meeting included key U.S. and EU labor and business representatives, and focused on identifying opportunities for governments, labor unions and businesses to collaborate to eliminate forced labor in supply chains.
Launched under the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council, the dialogue allows the U.S. and the EU to consult workers’ organizations and business representatives on transatlantic trade and labor issues jointly, especially in relation to the work of the council’s Working Group on Global Trade Challenges.
The department’s Deputy Undersecretary of International Affairs Thea Lee, U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai, and the European Commission’s Executive Vice President and Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis hosted the event.
“Our policies must address the challenges today’s workers face throughout the global economy,” said Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Thea Lee. “These challenges include eliminating forced labor in our global supply chains and ensuring the rights of workers in the growing digital economy are protected. Working with our U.S. and EU partners, we hope to realize our shared goals for inclusive trade and economic development with strong support for international labor rights.”
“The recently released global estimates of 28 million people in forced labor highlight that the products we trade continue to be tainted by human exploitation,” said Ambassador Katherine Tai. “Our partnership with the European Union, and our collaboration with transatlantic labor unions and business leaders, is critical to advancing our work to make trade a force for good and transform the way we treat workers – not just in the United States – but across the world.”
In a prior technical level meeting of the dialogue, union and business leaders identified the following priority areas for further discussion and cooperation: combatting forced labor, including in global supply chains, and exploring the impact of digital trade on workers and employers for the future of work in the digital economy as priority areas for further discussion and cooperation under the Trade and Labor Dialogue.
The topics discussed at the principals’ meeting included:
Leveraging trade tools between the U.S. and the EU to eliminate forced labor in the global economy.
Fostering cooperation between labor unions and businesses, and governments to identify, prevent, address, and reduce the risk of forced labor at every level of the supply chain in line with international standards.
Incorporating collective worker voice into actions to address forced labor in supply chains.
The U.S. labor and business representatives included the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Communication Workers of America, the Screen Actors Guild- American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Solidarity Center, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Council of International Business, the Information Technology Industry Council and the National Foreign Trade Council.
The EU’s labor and business representatives included the European Trade Union Confederation and BusinessEurope.
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